South Florida Gay News has exposed a massive five-year undercover operation in Palm Beach, FL, that’s seen the Sheriff’s Department arrest more than 600 men allegedly looking for sex in public parks throughout the region.
But as editor Jason Parsley discovered, of the hundreds nabbed only four were actually found in flagrante delicto (that’s “with their pants down,” for the non-Latin speakers). The rest were propositioned and arrested by one of the two undercover officers involved in the operation, Detectives Peter Lazar and Van Garner.
In at least 74 of the reports, it appeared the officers were the ones who first approached the defendant and struck up conversations. Parsley’s report includes statistical revelations of the age range of defendants, where they lived, and what techniques the officers utilized to effectuate the arrests.
“Many of the other reports are vague, but scores of the reports reveal officers themselves volunteering what sexual acts they prefer to engage in,” Parsley stated.
Obviously these guys weren’t in the park to play ultimate frisbee—and with the advent of Grindr, Manhunt, Craigslist and eighty gazilion other ways for men seeking men to hook up, we kind of wish public cruising would go the way of the hanky code.
But entrapment is entrapment—and this clearly looks like entrapment.
“It is clear from a review of the files that the police tactic is to approach, lure, and entice guys who are sitting alone in their car, or on a bench, start a sexually charged conversation with them, and then look for a way to arrest them,” lawyer Russell Cormican told Parsley.
SFGN‘s investigation was actually started after one of the detectives involved in the Palm Beach stings bragged to Cormican that, “this is all we do… we wear shorts and a tank top and we go after lewd acts.”
Gee, officer, we’re sorry you’re job is so dull. Maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will rob a bank or go on a shooting spree.
Photo courtesy of South Florida Gay News