Friday, August 14, 2009

Sgt. Brent Raban reveals the true face of Palm Beach County's Sherrif Department: Despair, poverty allowed the Punisher to rule Belle Glade

"...Like a good batterer, I know the areas that hide the marks well." -Sgt. Brent Raban, Palm Beach County Sheriff, relocated to Royal Palm Beach


While Belle Glade is a ways from the Lake Worth Area, this case shows us that our entire County is increasingly stuck under the Sheriff's Department, putting us at risk of having cops like Sgt. Raban relocated to our community without having a say in the matter. In places where the City police were already crooked, corrupt, racist and violent (like Belle Glade and Pahokee), having less local control over law enforcement will not be a solution.

For now, the abusive Sgt. Brent Raban is relocated to Royal Palm Beach, another city recently taken-over by the Sheriff, where Deputy Eric Bethel in Royal Palm Beach killed Ruben DeBrosse.

If we are to have accountability from Law Enforcement, cities NEED to demand independent local Police Review Boards. Why should Royal Palm Beach be stuck with someone like Raban?!

The Palm Beach Post ran an article by journalist Andrew Marra about Sgt. Raban, entitled "Despair, poverty allowed the Punisher to rule Belle Glade", below are some selections from the story:

Many of the sheriff's deputies assigned to patrol this city did not want to be here. Neither did Sgt. Brent Raban.

Before he started walking Belle Glade's streets with his "PUNISHMENT" skullcap, before the droves of phoned complaints and the excessive-force investigations, before his boasts of beatings on Facebook and the people who called him the Punisher, Raban was a man with a grudge.

Like other deputies before him, he saw his transfer to Belle Glade as his own punishment for angering a supervisor.

He came to Belle Glade with a "chip on his shoulder," as he told detectives assigned to investigate his actions this year.

Indeed, the Glades is a region that many deputies consider to be a "punishment assignment," as a sheriff's captain who once oversaw the Belle Glade district explained to investigators. A region far removed from the homes and lives of most deputies, requiring high workloads and constant immersion in one of South Florida's poorest neighborhoods.

But when Raban got there, he found himself in an environment ripe for the sorts of excesses investigators say he and two subordinates began to take - a poor, predominantly black area with a deeply entrenched criminal element and a generally defeatist attitude about reporting bad run-ins with police.

"Everyone here's got a story about the cops," said James Smith, 33, who grew up in Belle Glade and lives in one of its poorest sections. "They will whup you. Trust me."

In an interview, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw disputed the characterization of the Glades as a land of exile for punished deputies, although he conceded that deputies are sometimes transferred there, as they are to other districts, after run-ins with supervisors or colleagues...

An internal investigation released last week found he altered his uniform and wore a skullcap that read PUNISHMENT as he walked the streets with two of his deputies, both also condemned by the internal affairs report.

He and deputies Gregory Lynch and Michael Woodside bragged on their Facebook Web pages about beating suspects and made racially tinged comments, the report said. Raban attempted to amass a crew of like-minded deputies from other districts.

Raban was the subject of frequent complaints, but no one would file a written statement against him, his former supervisor, Capt. Simon Barnes, told investigators. In Belle Glade, the captain said, rough treatment by law enforcement is considered "business as usual."



The article also includes links to Raban's Facebook page and other articles:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/pbcwest/content/local_news/epaper/2009/08/01/gladescops0802.html

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