According to this week's New Times, the best place to spy on cops in Palm Beach County is a website called PBSOTalk.com. It's the rare spot on the interwebs where police officers can gripe about high-profile murder cases and pill-popping lieutenants without fear of losing their jobs.
Founded by former PBSO deputy Mark Dougan, the site has never hid its contempt for Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. But lately, its message boards have been promoting a new candidate for sheriff: Joe Talley.
In Palm Beach, as in Broward, the sheriff has incredible political clout. Bradshaw has not
faced a serious challenger since he was elected eight years ago. It's too soon to tell what chance Talley has to unseat him, but you've got to give the man credit for trying. The Pulp caught up with him after his fundraiser last night at The Cottage in Lake Worth.
"Anywhere that will accept us, we go," Talley says of his venue choice.
He's a grandfatherly guy, tall, with white-blond hair and a gray suit. He speaks softly, bends toward the table to hear better. His campaign supporters said about 35 or 40 people showed up to the fundraiser. But by 9:30 p.m., the event was over. Talley was sitting with his wife and four other supporters waiting for his prime rib and mashed potatoes to arrive.
According to his campaign site, Talley was a police officer in Baltimore for 22 years, working his way up to the rank of major. He also served as a lieutenant in the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office reserve unit until, he says, he grew disillusioned with Bradshaw. 'I was very disappointed with him," Talley says. "He's sort of dictating and intimidating."
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He runs through some well-worn complaints about Bradshaw spending tax dollars to take campaign donors to lunch and not allowing the county's inspector general to review the sheriff's office.
Then there's the case of Seth Adams, the unarmed Loxahatchee Groves man who was shot by a PBSO sergeant in the parking lot of his family's property in May. Adams was one of three people sheriff's deputies have shot and killed in the last month. After defending the deputy who shot Adams, saying the officer was in fear for his life, Bradshaw asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an independent review of the case. Ellie Whittey, Talley's campaign consultant, wondered if the state's investigation could be a fair one, considering that Bradshaw serves on an FDLE commission.
Talley doesn't get too worked up about any of this. He remains quiet, tucking into his dinner. "It's a concern to me that people aren't treated fairly," he says.
According to documents filed with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Talley has raised $2,825 for the race, compared to Bradshaw's $230,000 war chest. Two other candidates are in the running: Cleamond Walker of Riviera Beach has raised $545. Kevin Patrick Coleman just entered the race this month, and has not yet filed campaign finance documents.