The incident, however, crystallized what some call a malaise at PBSO when it comes to the treatment of women in uniform. And the lack of support from the deputies' supervisors illustrated that, despite talk by the agency's top brass that the playing field is leveled for both genders, PBSO remains a good-old-boys club under the leadership of two-term Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.

In late 2008, PBSO officials bragged that their homicide unit has seven women while sheriff's offices in Broward and Miami-Dade counties have only five between them. The department could also boast that about a quarter of its 2,126 uniformed employees were women — twice the national average.

But the agencywide picture is much different. The higher you venture into PBSO's organizational chart, the lower the percentages.

Ann Burke received an "industrial capital punishment" from Bradshaw, her attorney says.
Courtesy of Facebook
Ann Burke received an "industrial capital punishment" from Bradshaw, her attorney says.

Of the seven majors who supervise the patrol divisions, all are men. Out of 32 captains at the agency, only three are women. There are eight women at the rank of lieutenant, compared to 74 men. And there are 36 women sergeants, compared to 211 men.

Currently, PBSO's highest-ranking woman is a major, Tammy Waldrop, who went up the ranks under Bradshaw's predecessor, Ed Bieluch, before Bradshaw promoted her to major. Waldrop, who's working on a doctorate in administration, supervises the less-desirable corrections side of PBSO. But she is one of only two women on the sheriff's 16-member executive staff. Andrea Lueghausen, the civilian head of 911 operators, is the other.

The sheriff declined to make himself available for an interview for this article. But an unlikely ally, Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian, defended Bradshaw's record. The numbers, he says, don't show necessarily a lack of respect for the women in uniform. "With the budget cuts, no one is making rank," says Kazanjian, a former PBSO sergeant. "It's not about men versus women. It's just that no one has been promoted in months."

Besides, Kazanjian added, of all the sheriffs he has known, Bradshaw has been the most proactive at narrowing the gender gap. "It's only after this sheriff was elected that light alternative duty for pregnant women was enacted," Kazanjian says. "Back when I was a supervisor, I was on the streets with women deputies who were seven or eight months pregnant."

Says PBSO's number two, Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Gauger: "We're working on it. There's more women deputies than ever before, but they must go through the system before they're promoted in higher numbers. They're moving through the ranks, but there's still a lack of experience. There are quite a few women who'll make captain and above over the next few years. We're looking for smart, experienced individuals, no matter what gender they are."

Not so, says Alan Aronson, a West Palm Beach labor lawyer who represents law enforcement employees. It's while working on his cases, he says, that he's reminded that PBSO is still a man's world.

"There's disparate treatment between men and women at PBSO, there's no doubt in my mind," Aronson says. "Those in management are out of the 1970s. It might not even be conscious."

A dead ringer for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Aronson was the Palm Beach County PBA's lead counsel for seven years before he moved on to the private practice of Rosenthal, Levy & Simon. As an attorney who supervised the handling of thousands of complaints and conflicts within PBSO, Aronson says women get the short end more often than not — just because they're women.

"One place where you can see it clearly is in the way PBSO disciplines deputies," Aronson says. "The big picture is simple: Men don't get slammed like women."

"Getting slammed" — being punished harshly for violations of rules and regulations — is at the heart of a federal lawsuit Aronson filed late last year on behalf of 45-year-old Ann Marie Burke, a woman who became PBSO's first female patrol captain in 2007. The lawsuit names Bradshaw because he is intimately involved in the disciplining of employees found guilty of violations by Internal Affairs.

Burke came on board May 1, 1989, according to her personnel file. Partly because of her deep knowledge of PBSO policies and politics, partly because she believed the rules did apply to her, and partly because of her master's degree in administration, Burke went up the ranks steadily, making captain in just 14 years.

Burke was promoted by Bieluch, the previous sheriff, after a tour of duty as commander of the Internal Affairs squad. She had been handpicked for the thankless job after the now-deceased Bieluch was elected in 2000. Burke brought a certain zeal to the rat squad's daily routine. She ruffled feathers in the agency's establishment. "She ruined quite a few people's lives," union boss Kazanjian says, "a lot of lives that didn't need to be ruined."

He cites, for example, that Burke was a driving force behind the 2001 firings of two deputies and another's resignation after they posted videos on a porn website of themselves in group sex — in uniform, on the hood of a marked PBSO car, and using PBSO-issued nightsticks.

By 2007, Burke was named commander of the West Boca district. The area's sprawling gated communities form one of the sheriff's richest, and therefore most important, districts. At the time, Burke was also PBSO's second-highest-ranking female. That's when, reaching for the rarefied air of the rank of major, Burke applied for admission to a prestigious, ultracompetitive three-month training program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's academy in Quantico, Virginia.

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Lisa Simeone
Lisa Simeone

Obnoxious pigs. I hope these guys are married and their wives make their lives a living hell.


The reporting in the story is extraordinarily poor, lazy, and biased.  I love how the writer sets the tone by adding flare with language like "smack-dab," and "fancy-equipment-driven," and one of my favorites, "icing on the cake of humiliation."  Seriously, ever watch Brian Williams or Brokaw report the news, its done without spin and emotion.  Then your rag will have a little more credibility.  

It really is sad that you feel the need to add commentary and language the way you do.  You aren't writing a novel or a piece for the 'National Examiner' or are you; how about a novel idea, report the facts about what happened.  Did anyone in the story, including the deputies, ever use the phrase, "icing on the cake of humiliation?"  How about investigate the truthfulness of the claims and the entire story before you give it your own little spin and flavor and flare. 

All to often, these little local papers, get one or two people to comment and don't follow-up on the credibility of the witnesses or source.  Kevin Green? Mottl? Amoroso? Bonan?  What if someone at your "journalism" office claimed something about you that simply wasn't true?  Would you want the journalist to print the story without finding out if it really happened or how credible the source is or the witness(s) is/are or if the accuser was an incompetent person with a history of complaining/claiming harassment?  Please try it next time, you will gain a lot of respect and great deal of credibility from this reader and I'm guessing all your others as well.  As of right now, you have lost one more reader because of your language and your failure to investigate the story properly before printing it. 


How are the deputies victims or being treated like animals?  If you weren't there to witness or a trained hazmat tech. please don't answer that question because you don't know. This is clearly a case of "she said, he said," and who should we believe….let's see.  1. If there was an act of wrong doing or maliciousness, why didn't these accusers follow the proper procedure and document it/report it immediately and appropriately?  There is a policy and option for these issues or problems.  2. POLICY….when you don't know what a confiscated item is (b/c it can't go through security b/c it's dangerous) UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT pick it up, look at it, smell it, taste it, or touch it and say "uh...what's this?"  If they did their job by the rules, this even doesn't occur. 3.  Hmmm….pepper spray discharges randomly...but randomly when they decide to touch it and pick it up,  ever heard of operator error?  How about, "don't touch it, it was confiscated because it's dangerous."  In fact, it says so right on the "unknown" item, you can read the warning label without touching it, that's if you are really that concerned about it.  Now, they want to accuse FF/other deputies of wrong doing…nonsense and blasphemy!   These are the men AND WOMEN that risk their lives during real HAZMAT incidents, ever heard of the Bahrona's.  These are good people, cops and firefighters protect us and should be treated with respect and admiration, wouldn't  the deputies making accusations say the same thing about public servants or is this an attempt to get a free ride?   It sounds like the only ones at fault are the deputies that failed to follow procedure on more than one occasion.  What do their personnel reviews and files look like?  How can anyone believe this story, if they can't' get the basics of their profession correct.THEY ARE ATTEMPTING TO DEFLECT THEIR FAILURES, RULE BREAKING, AND NEGLIGENCE ONTO OTHERS, MAKING IT EVEN WORSE, ITS ONTO SWORN PUBLIC SERVANTS. THIS IS CLEARLY NOT BELIEVABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN ANY CREDENCE!



Draconian Prime
Draconian Prime

So the Deputies are saying they were stripped down, hosed down, and humiliated... Isn't that what they do to Citizens they arrest? Maybe next time they are processing detainees they'll learn a little something from this incident.


Yeah, sure. I guess the fact that they risk their lives every day in order to protect everyone, including you, means they get to be treated like animals.