Sheriff Bradshaw and the Palm Beach County Psihuska (William Norman Grigg)
Monday May 6th, 2013
"What does it hurt," asked Sheriff Ric Bradshaw of Florida’s Palm Beach County, "to have somebody knock on the door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’"
The answer to that question obviously depends on the identity of the "Somebody" who is making that inquiry. What Sheriff Bradshaw had in mind was a strike force composed of deputies, social workers, and "mental health" professionals from a "Behavioral Sciences Unit" (BSU) who would be on-call twenty-four hours a day, ready to be deployed to visit the homes of what the Soviets used to call "socially dangerous people." In the Soviet Union, such people would often be involuntarily committed to a psihuska, or psychiatric prison.
"We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him," Bradhsaw told the Palm Beach Post in describing the BSU, which would be funded through a $1 million grant from the state government. That grant hasn’t been formalized, but if the state legislature balks, it’s quite likely the Feds will chip in: In a speech last February 6 to the Alliance of DelRay Residential Organizations, Bradshaw said that he would prefer to fund the unit "through a federal grant."
This is precisely the kind of pilot program the Feds would find worthwhile – indeed, it represents a model of "preventive intervention" that the federal government has been promoting for at least two decades.
In 1993, another law enforcement personality with roots in Florida, then-Attorney General Janet Reno, proposed the creation of specialized units composed of police and social workers who would fan out in troubled urban regions, knocking on doors, conducting "safety" evaluations, and connecting residents to government "services."
During her reign of terror as Dade County Prosecutor – in which she displayed unalloyed viciousness in tearing children from their homes and persecuting innocent parents – Reno created "Neighborhood Resource Teams" teams composed of "community-friendly, highly respected police officers, social workers, public health nurses, [and] community organizers, working full time within a narrow neighborhood," she recalled in a May 1993 speech to the National Forum on Prevention of Crime and Violence.
Reno had the temerity to offer her program as a national model just weeks after presiding over the April 19 holocaust at Waco, where she and her underlings provided the indispensable service of annihilating dozens of innocent children after torturing them for fifty-one days.
Like Reno, Bradshaw describes the purpose of his proposed Behavioral Science Unit in therapeutic terms. The objective, he insists, is "violence prevention" and "referral to services," rather than an arrest. To those on the receiving end of that intervention, this distinction is entirely theoretical: Being taken into custody by armed strangers is an arrest, irrespective of the semantic camouflage, and every encounter between the public and the State’s costumed enforcers is pregnant with life-threatening violence against the innocent.
It should also be understood that Bradshaw’s real objective is not "violence prevention," but rather civilian disarmament. This was also explained by the sheriff in his February 6 address. The purpose of the BSU, the sheriff said, is to "identify people with a propensity and inclination to go do violent things and stop them from accessing firearms." A system of preemptive disarmament of people considered to be psychologically unstable or otherwise "dangerous" has actually been in place in Connecticut since 1999. Although it has resulted in the confiscation of firearms from thousands of innocent people, it did nothing to prevent the horror that unfolded last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Employing the services of "mental health professionals" to certify that people are dangerous to themselves or others would negate the need for an actual criminal prosecution. And for Bradshaw, the most potent indicator that a given individual is a "socially dangerous person" is a hatred for the institutionalized affliction called "government."
The man accused of shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords "was telling other people about how much he hated government and government officials," Bradshaw told his audience. The assumption here is that such opinions are symptoms of incipient criminal behavior. This is why the sheriff intends to create a 24-hour tipline through which neighbors, family, friends, and others can inform on people who display such dangerous attitudes.
"It’s the same principle that’s used by the Secret Service that’s very successful," he insisted. The S.S. has a hotline that can be used to report impious and supposedly threatening comments about the murderous bureaucrat who occupies the Oval Office, on the assumption that blasphemy against the divine person of the Dear Leader is itself a criminal act.
While Bradshaw and others of his ilk regard idle words to be dangerous, if not criminal, they can’t see how people could perceive a threat in the sudden, unsolicited presence of armed state functionaries on their doorstep. After all, asks the sheriff, what would it hurt to send his deputies to confront people who aren’t suspected of a crime?
If he possessed a particle of honesty, Sheriff Bradshaw would pose that question to Dennis Gaydos, and listen carefully to the answer. Because of the kind ministrations of Bradshaw’s deputies, Gaydos is now missing an ear and an eye.
What makes his case an even more compelling precautionary example is the fact that, according to a lawsuit he filed against Bradshaw, Gaydos – a homeless man – had "contacted a local assistance agency by telephone for the purpose of a referral for residential resources, financial aid, and general counseling." While he was on the phone, the helpful social workers with whom he was speaking made a "referral" of their own to Bradshaw’s agency, which responded by dispatching a SWAT team.
Gaydos had established a shelter on a parcel of land behind a church. The pastor in charge of the congregation had given Gaydos permission to be there. Shortly after Gaydos called for help, a combined tactical force composed of deputies from the sheriff’s office and officers from the Palm Springs Police Department – kitted out in paramilitary drag, carrying the familiar assortment of weapons, and supplemented with a helicopter – set up a staging area near Gaydos’s shelter.
Although they were dealing with a sickly, unarmed homeless man who was not a criminal suspect, the Berserkers treated the incident as a combat situation. As they approached the encampment, Gaydos – who was holding his cell phone – stood up. Without a word of warning, he was shot twice in the head with rubber bullets. The first round damaged an ear; the second one destroyed his left eye. The assailants later tried to justify the head shots by claiming that they had seen a knife in Gaydos’s hand – but since no knife was ever recovered, this can be dismissed as a self-serving lie of the kind routinely offered by police officers after they kill or mutilate an innocent person.
Apparently satisfied merely to leave their victim partially deaf and partially blinded, the officers never arrested Gaydos. At the time of this March 2007 incident, the PBSO SWAT team was under the command of Lt. Dan Burrows, an oxycontin addict who was accused of stealing pain medicine and a rifle from a terminally ill former deputy.
About a year before the PBSO participated in the assault that mutilated Gaydos, Captain David Carhart, the head of the department’s violent crimes division, was purged from the force following multiple incidents in which he broke into the home of former girlfriends. One of them, Tracey Seberg, filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office – and Carhart responded by threatening to kill her if she didn’t retract it. According to Seberg, Carhart told her that he "felt like God when in uniform" and thus didn’t believe that he was subject to the rules that apply to mere Mundanes.
Although Carhart faced up to 15 years in prison for burglary and stalking, he was demoted to lieutenant and then quietly dismissed from the department in a mass layoff, receiving a $120,000 severance package.
Neither Burrows nor Carhart is presently available for duty with the Behavioral Science Unit. However, Sheriff Bradshaw will be able to make use of the services of Sgt. Brent Raban, a sociopath who was discharged from the force after boasting about his habit of beating suspects – and then reinstated, with the expectation of $150,000 in back pay, through the intervention of the police union.
Like the members of a hyper-violent police gang in Milwaukee, Sgt. Raban has an adolescent fixation on a comic book character called the Punisher. This wouldn’t be a problem to anybody else if Raban hadn’t been given a state-issued costume and official permission to act out his violent fantasies on helpless people. He advertised his intentions by accessorizing his costume with a camouflage-colored skullcap displaying the word "Punishment."
"It’s not crime-fighting – I’m dealing out PUNISHMENT!" observed Raban in a 2009 Facebook post written while he was patrolling Belle Glade, a city whose residents are besieged by both private crime and officially-sanctioned police violence. Raban wasn’t concerned about facing charges, he gloated, because "Like a good batterer, I know the areas that hide the marks well." In another post he complained that it had been at least two weeks since he had beaten somebody, and that this prolonged dry spell had left him "itchy."
When on-shift opportunities to beat handcuffed suspects became scarce, Raban found other ways to indulge what his boss calls a "propensity and inclination to go do violent things." On one occasion he parked his squad car behind a school bus that was decanting young children, turned on his blue lights, and used his PA system to insult and upbraid parents who were picking up their kids – most likely in the hope that one of them would be provoked into offering him an excuse to inflict "punishment."
He was eventually fired after a woman in his neighborhood complained that he had parked his patrol car on the sidewalk in front of her home and used his position as a deputy to harass her family. By that time, Sheriff Bradshaw – who had reluctantly been forced to have Raban sign a "last-chance contract" – was compelled to fire Raban. But in Florida, as is the case in most other states, it is practically impossible to fire a law enforcement officer.
In April of this year, an arbitrator ordered Bradshaw to reinstate Raban and pay him back wages. According to the people responsible for imposing "accountability" on law enforcement officers, Raban’s sociopathic behavior does not disqualify him for service as a Palm Beach County Deputy – which may well include working with the BSU to visit and take into custody people anonymously accused of "hating the government." After all, what other personality type would be interested in a job of that kind?
William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.