Forum starts a conversation about criminal justice
An important public discussion took place on the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College Tuesday evening. “Moving Forward: A Criminal Justice and Community Forum” shed light on the role of the criminal justice system in Palm Beach County and how criminal justice professionals and citizens can come together and take positive action.
Questions were culled from community and PBSC submissions and ranged from the broad (What challenges do you face?) to the specific (What should an individual do if they’re pulled over for a traffic violation?) to the probing (How can we come together as a community with full recognition that black lives, blue lives and all lives matter—so that all sides feel they are being heard and understood?). Responses were informative and illuminating. There was also levity.
The audience almost filled the Public Safety Conference Center on the Lake Worth campus, and PBSC Criminal Justice students occupied many seats. “I think that the event was very good because it focused on discussions that people have but don’t bring to wider attention—things that are troubling a lot of people that should be fixed,” said Chelsea Bowman, who is pursuing an A.A. degree with plans to transfer to a university bachelor’s program in criminal justice.
Kristy Cantrell agreed. She’s enrolled in PBSC’s Criminal Justice Technology A.S. degree program. “I think that the discussion was very important because it addressed a lot of issues that go on in our society here. It was also good to see that law enforcement has the same views and feelings on the diversity and racial issues in our communities and that they’re working on it and willing to fix it. I’m looking forward to the next forum.”
Palm Beach State President Ava L. Parker opened the event, and Chief Larry Schroeder, PBSC Criminal Justice program director, gave an overview of the College’s Criminal Justice Institute before the discussion got underway. Tory Dunnan, anchor and reporter for WPTV, moderated the panel that included:
- Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit
- The Honorable Jeffrey Colbath, Chief Judge, 15th Judicial Circuit
- Patrick Franklin, President & CEO, Urban League of Palm Beach County
- Michael Gauger, Chief Deputy, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office
- Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, 15th Judicial Circuit
- John Howe, Attorney & former President of Palm Beach Bar Association
- Jeffrey Katz, Police Chief, Boynton Beach
- Frank Kitzerow, Police Chief, Jupiter
- Clarence Williams, Police Chief, Riviera Beach
The forum fulfilled Parker’s ambition for the event, citing PBSC’s influence as the largest public safety educator in Palm Beach County. “I’m hoping that this forum will be unique and that it will provide a different perspective on what we’re doing to prepare ourselves for tough situations before they happen.”