Doesn't matter how long ago it happened, this guy has no business being a cop let alone a sheriff[quote=NewsWriter]Sun Sentinel
Feb 23, 1987
PALM BEACH COUNTY
The police chiefs of West Palm Beach and Vero Beach, once competitors for the same job, are battling again, this time over a gun taken from the West Palm Beach Police Department's evidence room and an alleged cover-up.
James Gabbard, formerly a West Palm Beach police captain and now Vero Beach's chief, said in court documents that West Palm Beach Chief George Siegrist covered up a theft from the evidence room in order to save deputy chief Ric Bradshaw's career.
"I know he was stealing the gun," Gabbard quoted Siegrist as saying. "I am going to save him. He's got a lot of time invested here and I would hate to see him ruin his career over this."
"It was obvious that a gun had been stolen," Gabbard said in a sworn statement, adding that after the alleged theft was discovered in October 1985, Bradshaw returned the gun and evidence records.
Gabbard called the whole incident the "evidence caper."
Siegrist denied making any such statement and said Bradshaw, at the time a major and the department's No. 3 officer, had done nothing illegal.
"I deny that I said that to Gabbard," Siegrist responded in his own sworn statement. "It was a totally inaccurate depiction of what was said."
Gabbard, who spent 16 years on the force before resigning, said last week he would not comment beyond what he said under oath.
Siegrist also refused further comment. He became police chief May 1, 1985, beating 261 other candidates, including Gabbard, who made it into the group of nine finalists.
Bradshaw, a 16-year veteran and now the department's No. 2 officer, said last week, "I didn't talk about it then and I'm not going to talk about it now. The record speaks for itself."
Official police department records show only that Bradshaw received a five- day suspension for violating a superior officer's order.
As explanation, Bradshaw wrote to Siegrist, stating that he violated Siegrist's orders on Oct. 10, 1985, by entering the department's evidence room. He said he violated a second order when "I removed a piece of departmental paper work and took it to my office, where it remained for that day."
He continued: "Regardless of my intended purposed for this action, which in no way was meant to give the perception of wrongdoing, I knowingly violated your orders and wishes and I fully accept the responsibility for my actions."
Shortly after the incident, Siegrist called Bradshaw's actions "almost an accident-type situation. He certainly had every right to what he took, he just didn't do it properly."
Bradshaw improperly removed a card that recorded that the SWAT team had possession of a police handgun, Siegrist said, adding that Bradshaw was supposed to copy information off the card or make a copy of the card, not remove the original record from the evidence room.
That's not the way things happened, said Gabbard, whose statements came during pretrial proceedings in an unrelated case brought against the City of West Palm Beach in federal court.
The case alleges that some West Palm Beach police officers violated the rights of misdemeanor and non-violent felony suspects by allowing police dogs to bite them while being apprehended and arrested.
In the court documents, Gabbard said he and Bradshaw have not gotten along since the mid-70s. Both men were sargeants when an officer told Gabbard that Bradshaw wanted police reports changed to make a burglary arrest look stronger than it was, Gabbard said in his sworn statement.
Gabbard said he confronted Bradshaw, who denied the charge. Then Gabbard said he complained to the State Attorney's Office.
In Gabbard's version of Bradshaw's suspension, the department's evidence custodian discovered that Bradshaw had removed two cards on a mini millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun, one from the Administration Division and the backup card from the evidence room.
The custodian, Bob Linton, told Capt. Charles Mann, who traced the cards.
"Everything was missing: reports, evidence sheets, as was the gun from evidence," Gabbard said.
He said he told Mann to tell Siegrist, but Mann "was really nervous about it, because obviously he was risking a great deal. But I told him he had no choice."
Mann told Siegrist, who then informed his top officers at a tense staff meeting, Gabbard said.
"The chief came into the staff and he said, `I've caught -- and this is his words, I'll never forget it as long as I live -- `I've caught Maj. Bradshaw with his hands in the cookie jar, and I am going to suspend him for five days and the matter is closed.' "
Gabbard said he got into a heated discussion with Siegrist. "I told him Maj. Bradshaw was a thief and lied to him and he was, in fact, going to steal the gun."
But Siegrist disagreed, Gabbard said, "and he was the chief. So, of course, I didn't have any choice but to accept it at that point."
Later that morning, Siegrist came to Gabbard's office. Gabbard said Siegrist said, "Bradshaw had admitted to him that he had stolen the gun, and that it was all boxed up and ready to be shipped somewhere."
Bradshaw offered to resign, but Siegrist refused to accept, Gabbard said Siegrist told him.
Mann last week refused to talk about the incident, but said, "Gabbard was very knowledgeable about what went on."
Siegrist's version is different.
He admitted saying that Bradshaw had been caught with his hands in the cookie jar, but that he did not mean what Gabbard said he meant.
"The reference that his hands were in the cookie jar was that he did what he shouldn't have done; not that he took anything," Siegrist said in court documents. The card that was taken "merely stated the data pertaining to a weapon which was legally in Deputy Chief Bradshaw's possession."
After announcing Bradshaw's suspension, Siegrist said Gabbard said, "Whenever someone is down, you ought to go for the jugular."
Siegrist also said Bradshaw did offer to resign, not because he had done anthing wrong other than violate the orders, but to spare the department any embarrassment.
Bradshaw's five-day suspension showed he would not be treated differently from any other police officer, said Siegrist, who promoted Bradshaw to deputy chief a month later.[/quote]