A deputy at the Palm Beach County Sheriffâ€™s Office tells about planting evidence, lying in reports and testimony under Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
One of the biggest defenses in contraband cases are that law enforcement officers planted evidence and lie to make their arrests. These cries from defendants are largely ignored by all parties involved, including the juries because of psychology. When it is the word of a defendant against the law enforcement officer, people have been conditioned to rely on the word of authority as truth. The question is, should this be the case?
One of our editors stumbled across a web site where local law enforcement deputies are free to post, and do so with 100% anonymity. In this web site, they exchange tactical information, procedural tips and methods to use to gain compliance of subjects or to arrest them for being difficult.
One such post, titled â€œTricks of the trade â€“ letâ€™s exchange!â€ was started by a deputy who wrote,
â€œI have a method for getting people off the street that should not be there. Mouthy drivers, street lawyers, assholes and just anyone else trying to make my job difficult. Under my floor mat, I keep a small plastic dime baggie with Cocaine in residue. Since itâ€™s just residue, if it is ever found during a search of my car like during an inspection, itâ€™s easy enough to explain. It must have stuck to my foot while walking through San Castle. Anyways, no oneâ€™s going to question an empty baggie. The residue is the key because you can fully charge some asshole with possession of cocaine, heroin, or whatever just with the residue. How to get it done? â€œI asked Mr. DOE for his identification. And he pulled out his wallet, I observed a small plastic baggie fall out of his pocketâ€¦â€ You get the idea. easy, right? Best part is, those baggies can be found lots of places so you can always be ready. Donâ€™t forget to wipe the baggie on the persons skin after you arrest them because you want their DNA on the bag if they say you planted it or fight it in court.â€
This revelation started off a wave of other postings on what police officers do to put people in jail. This includes planting evidence and falsifying official reports used to lock suspects up. We left a post asking for the original poster to contact us anonymously and if certain conditions were met, we would interview him. We were contacted by a person, who we will refer to as Joe Deputy. Joe provided us evidence proving his law enforcement status and employment through the Palm Beach County Sheriffâ€™s Office. He has been employed as a law enforcement officer for in excess of 15 years. He agreed to speak with us on the condition of anonymity, the condition we donâ€™t ask him about anything heâ€™s done directly, and referring to him by an alias, which we agreed to do.
Jeffery Schultz: You posted about arresting people for drugs that they didnâ€™t have. Does planting evidence like this take place at the Palm Beach County Sheriffâ€™s Office?
Deputy Sheriff: Um, yes it does, on a regular basis. Probably every day in my shift. I work nights on the Road Patrol in a rough, um, mostly black neighborhood. Planting evidence and lying in your reports are just part of the game.
Jeffery Schultz: â€œDid you observe with some frequency this â€¦ this practice which is taking someone who was seemingly not guilty of a crime and laying the drugs on them?â€
Deputy Sheriff: Yes, all the time. It is something I see a lot of, whether it was from deputies, supervisors or undercovers and even investigators. Itâ€™s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, theyâ€™re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway. One of the consequences of the war on drugs is that police officers are pressured to make large numbers of arrests, and itâ€™s easy for some of the less honest cops to plant evidence on innocent people. The drug war inevitably leads to crooked policing â€” and quotas further incentivize such practices. It doesnâ€™t help that your higherups all did the same thing when they were on the road. Itâ€™s like a neverending cycle. Like how molested children accept that as okay behavior and begin molesting children themselves.
Jeffery Schultz: Is this taught in your training academy?
Deputy Sheriff: It is not a part of the course work, but many of the Field Training officers give life lessons in how to stay out of trouble or how to stay ahead of a suspect when it comes to planting evidence or writing your reports. My training officer, who is no longer at the Sheriffâ€™s Office, would keep narcotics and a gun in his car in case he needed to put pressure on a suspect. We also regularly review the facts before writing our reports to make sure our reports match the facts as we present them. By doing this, we can present them in any way we want.
Jeffery Schultz: Has anyone ever been caught doing this? If so, what have your top bosses done about it?
Deputy Sheriff: Top bosses? Itâ€™s a joke, right?
Jeffery Schultz: No, why do you say that?
Deputy Sheriff: Our top boss, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, supports this behavior and has for his entire career. As with anything, it depends on who you know in our agency. Last year, we had three deputies on the TAC unit, Kevin Drummond and Jarrod Foster, get caught falsifying information for a warrant. They got a pat on the back for a job well done. Just recently, we had a deputy, I think his name was Booth. He was caught completely lying on a car crash. Back a few more years, our Sheriff was involved a massive coverup of the death of two black deputies. He hid the report for years. This is only the beginning. The Sheriff has been involved in falsification of documents and his underling, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, has been personally involved in an overtime scandal to steal money from the Sheriffâ€™s Office. Does our Sheriff know about this behavior? Of course he does. We have even had a judge outright accuse my agency of committing fraud upon the court in a public hearing. She was one of the ones who saw through all the lying and covering up our department does to get away with the internal crime committed by deputies on a regular basis.
Jeffery Schultz: What about planting evidence? Does Sheriff Bradshaw support that also?
Deputy Sheriff: Look, what you have to realize is that you do this at your own risk. Most supervisors look the other way, but occasionally some will not. Then what are you going to do if that supervisor writes a memo to IA? Itâ€™s better just to keep it to yourself and your road patrol partners or unit partners. It is not something we advertise because we have some supervisors that are angels and donâ€™t have what it takes to do the job. Besides, we donâ€™t brag about what we do because you donâ€™t want those rumors out there. Still, Sheriff Bradshaw was caught a few years back ordering detectives to falsify evidence to implicate a black man in a robbery. This is why when his deputies do get caught in the middle of a scandal like planting evidence or lying on reports, he generally looks the other way and instructs Internal Affairs to sweep it under the run, unless he doesnâ€™t like you.
Jeffery Schultz: You have proof of this?
Deputy Sheriff: It was testimony by his own chief. His own chief made this admission, in addition to making the admission Sheriff Bradshaw used to steal firearms from the evidence room. It was always speculated guns he would steal these were to plant on suspects.
Jeffery Schultz: So, planting of evidence, is this prevalent in law enforcement agencies?
Deputy Sheriff: I canâ€™t speak for other agencies really, because I have been, you know, with the same agency from the very beginning. We have had guys come work here from new places and they always had new creative ways to get things done. So I suppose yeah, it is common everywhere. Our agency is, um, we are being sued for it right now. It will never make it to court though. There is a cap on what you can win from a law enforcement agency of $200k but our Sheriff, well, he regularly settles out of court for much more than that. It is a way to keep the misdeeds of his deputies from ever reaching the light of day. You know, because these settlements, they are all confidential. I could onâ€™y imagine how many millions are paid out in confidential settlements every year. The taxpayer would cry I am sure.
Jeffery Schultz: Get things done?
Deputy Sheriff: Yes. Sometimes we have a guy running his mouth. Or, um, Sometimes we get a tricky situation where no one has broken the law but you know if you leave, well, you will know you just be right back trying to resolve the problem, like at domestic despute. It happens all the time and you canâ€™t force either party to leave but you know violence is imminent after you turn around and go. Well, and then sometimes we get a guy who keeps getting off but we know is guilty for something so deputies get things done. They might find a baggie of narcotics on the suspect and take him in. Itâ€™s done every day here and no one asks questions. We get complaints to IA on it all the time but they always make it go away. Itâ€™s a team effort and like they say, you can beat the rap, but you canâ€™t beat the ride.â€
Jeffery Schultz: You mentioned specifically â€œimplicating a black person.â€ Does your agency target based on race?
Deputy Sheriff: I wouldnâ€™t say target based on race but is is, you know, um, it is much easier to do this on a black person because they have no credibility anyways. The charges stick better to blacks than to a rich white guy that can afford a lawyer. That is one school of thought. Then you still have the deputies who like doing it to the rich white guys because they say it removes the smug look from their faces. They get their kicks from the power like its a game. Most cops though, they, umâ€¦ do it to get bad guys off the streets. The last group of deputies do it for personal gain.
Jeffery Schultz: Personal gain? Like what?
Deputy Sheriff: Sometimes a deputy will use the threat of planting, you know, dope on a person to get some cash or something from the perp. Uh, like a few hundred bucks can make the problem go away. Itâ€™s pretty rare but it happens. Usually itâ€™s the deputies that live large and need supplemental income. They tend to keep it really quiet because thatâ€™s like, you know, really bad stuff. We even had a guy put the suspect in the back of his green and white [patrol car]to drive him to an ATM machine. We were all like â€˜what the hell is he doing?â€™ And another time a deputy arrested a guy for possession after he said he found the baggie on the guyâ€™s floor board. Then he, um, he didnâ€™t charge the guy in exchange for oral sex from the guyâ€™s wife. I thought that was, you know, really wrong. Taking things just too far. Way to far. But I kept my mouth shut because, you know, you cross that line even a little and you donâ€™t have the right to complain about those crossing it a bit more.
Jeffery Schultz: This is terrible stuff they are doing. Just terrible.
Deputy Sheriff: Yes, um it can get pretty bad. Most of our deputies wouldnâ€™t ever think of doing that or going that far but a few, you know, there are a few bad apples in every bunch.
Jeffery Schultz: You said â€œBeat the ride?â€ What does that mean?
Deputy Sheriff: Yes, it means you might be able to beat the charges against you but you canâ€™t beat spending the night in jail or the trouble of going through the legal system.
Jeffery Schultz: But what about the innocent people? The ones who have had narcotics planted in their possession by a deputy who end up in jail because of it?
Deputy Sheriff: These people arenâ€™t innocent. If we are dealing with someone, there is a reason for it. We donâ€™t really interact with members of the law abiding public.
Jeffery Schultz: Are there any red flags that would indicate someone had been arrested for drugs they didnâ€™t possess or that officers were planting evidence?
Deputy Sheriff: Not really. Planting evidence is done in such a way it canâ€™t be disputed. Before we write our reports, we can review all the evidence. When our fellow deputies write their supplemental reports, they usually wait until the primary officer writes his report and then uses the facts from those reports. There is no independent recollection ever, and this is standard procedure everywhere. Chances are, if you are reading a police report, you are reading a well thought out, well-rehearsed story that has little in common with what actually took place.
Jeffery Schultz: How does this Sheriff keep his job? Donâ€™t the people in your county become outraged?
Deputy Sheriff: The people in our county wear blinders. They donâ€™t care what we do or if deputies are planting evidence as long as they keep believing the lie their crime is going down and they are protected. They only care about themselves and pretty much, that is fine with us. We get some of the highest salaries in the country, incredible benefits and cars that we can use for our personal use any time we want. No matter how bad our deputies think Sheriff Bradshaw is, money talks and as long as it keeps flowing into our bank accounts, we arenâ€™t going to make any waves. And um, it is quite the opposite. Almost every civilian employee of the Sheriffâ€™s Office who voluntarily worked on the Sheriffâ€™s campaign got a nice, shiny unmarked county take home car they use when ever they want and gas paid for by the tax payer. Weâ€™re talking like 150 cars or something completely obscene like that. Who is going to want that to go away?
The Drug Policy Alliance, a group that promotes alternatives to the war on drugs, issued a statement calling the case against the officers indicative of larger, systematic failures.
Deputy Joe went on to say how the leaders, at the Palm Beach County Sheriffâ€™s Office, including Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, threatens street cops if they donâ€™t make enough stop-and-frisk arrests, â€œbut also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics.â€ He continued, â€œPlaces like Wellington and Boca Raton and other places under contract need to show how the Sheriffâ€™s Office reduces the crime and manipulation of the crime codes is an easy way to do it.â€ Joe also stated how command officers routinely call crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.
It should be noted in addition to interviewing â€œJoe the Deputy,â€ we performed independent research and linked to documents and articles that support his claims.