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PBSO involved in fewer shootings this year

Posted at 7:44 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 19:44:09-05

By 5:30 Sunday morning, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw was front and center.

"For the last 48 hours, he's pretty much terrorized this community with armed robberies," Sheriff Bradshaw said in describing 48-year old James Goad to reporters Sunday.  Goad was shot Sunday morning by five PBSO deputies after, according to the Sheriff, Goad went on a 2-day crime spree that involved a bank robbery, a convenience store robbery and an armed carjacking before deputies caught up with him in suburban Lake Worth.

"He came out between some vehicles, ran towards the deputies actually pointing the thing he had in his hands at the deputies at which time they fired at him," explained the Sheriff.

The shooting is the third time this year PBSO deputies have pulled the trigger on someone.

Last year, deputies were involved in 9 shootings.  In 2013, deputies were also involved in 9 shootings.

In fact, in the past 10 years, PBSO deputies have been involved in, on average, nearly 9 shootings each year.

So what changed in 2015?

"I think there are some situations that if we would have tactically done things a little bit better, that maybe the outcome would have been different," said Sheriff Bradshaw in an April, 2015 interview with the Contact 5 Investigators and the Palm Beach Post as part of our joint investigation, Line of Fire.  

As part of our series, we analyzed 15 years' worth deputy-involved shootings and found questions with how these shootings were investigated by PBSO and why, in some cases, deputies even pulled the trigger.

"Do I need to change basic polices?  No," said the Sheriff during that same interview.  "Do I need to enhance them if I have a chance to based on best practices?  Absolutely," Sheriff Bradshaw told the Contact 5 Investigators and the Palm Beach Post.

Shortly after our April interview, the Sheriff did just that, requiring deputies document each time they point a gun at someone.

Between April and July, the Contact 5 Investigators found deputies reported 255 instances where a deputy pointed a gun at someone, which averages out to more than twice per day.

Since our investigation, one of PBSO's shootings has been reviewed by the FBI.  The agency also hired an outside firm to review its internal affairs department.  That report is not yet complete.

What, if anything, these measures are having on deputy-involved shooting numbers remains unknown. Neither the Sheriff nor his spokesperson responded to our request for an interview Monday.

But at a time when law enforcement agencies across the county are under the microscope, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office is getting attention, not for what deputies just did, but for what deputies, this year, are doing far less of.