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In a Response, Jim Manfre Recasts Sheriff Fleming’s 8 Years in Harsh Terms

| March 1, 2012

Jim Manfre at his Flagler Beach office. (© FlaglerLive)

Soon after Jim Manfre announced that he was running for Flagler County Sheriff again–a post he held from 2001 to 2005–he took on incumbent Sheriff Don Fleming critically and head-on. Manfre made several claims against Fleming in an article about his announcement, and a news release from his campaign that accompanied the announcement. Fleming responded to those claims in a piece that ran on Feb. 23. Manfre’s response follows. Keep in mind that Fleming is facing at least two opponents in the Republican primary (Ray Stevens and John Pollinger), while Manfre is facing at least one opponent (Karl Tozzi). Fleming defeated Manfre in the general election four years ago. But the two may not necessarily face each other in November.

By Jim Manfre

Let me respond to some of the points you made in your last statement.

First, your credibility on your comments are a bit tainted by you having publicly lied three times to the News Journal, and the public for that matter, about how many times you spoke to John Fischer after the Nov. 10 hit and run incident involving Francoise Pecqueur.  What is most troubling about your comments to date about your conversations with Mr. Fischer is that you fail to understand that your duty to protect and serve as chief law enforcement officer extends to all citizens of Flagler County, rather than exclusively to your friends and cronies.

As a law enforcement officer of over forty years, you should have known that during an active investigation you should not have had at least six conversations with a suspect’s husband about the pending investigation. You also had a duty to report these conversations to the investigating officer. No one believes that Mr. Fischer woke you up at 5:30 a.m. to tell you that his wife thought she hit an animal. This is especially true in light of the fact that we now know that Mrs. Fischer at some point stopped and discovered she had hit a person even though she apparently did not communicate this to anyone at the scene.

Your response to Mr. Fischer’s call should have been to tell him that he should get an attorney for his wife, not the Sheriff’s Office attorney, and turn herself into law enforcement. Your advice to call 911 makes no sense. Law enforcement had arrived on the scene six hours before you received this call. You should have had no further contact with Mr. Fischer after this point as it can be construed as obstruction of justice or, at the very least, a violation of your oath of office. If you did not know there was a pending investigation at the time, you should have called either one of your three majors, five captains, seven lieutenants, twelve sergeants or twelve corporals to investigate before proceeding with any further conversation with Mr. Fischer.

Sheriff Don Fleming (© FlaglerLive)

In addition, after forty years in law enforcement, it is troubling that you don’t know the difference between a routine medical call where it is obvious that the medical emergency is based on natural causes, and a suspicious incident of a body lying on the side of the road unconscious without an eyewitness account of how she got there. Dispatching a deputy to make an inquiry may have saved the victim’s life as it took medical personnel precious hours to discover the cause of her injuries.

This is not the first troubling incident in your administration. Let me remind you of just a few of the other embarrassments you have brought to our community.  You fired your first chief deputy, Bill Karbach, after less than six months on the job after he criticized you for hiring one of your crony friends’ son without the proper Florida law enforcement procedures. He was, by the way, your campaign manager.

You then proceeded to fire or demote five African American and Hispanic employees. The state Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after a lengthy investigation of these firings and demotions found a pattern of discrimination by you in the handling of these personnel matters. The settlement of these cases cost the county taxpayers $300,000. In addition, you have promoted only two African Americans or Hispanics during your entire eight years in office.

Soon after this fiscal fiasco, your inmate facility commander who was your campaign treasurer was indicted for illegally recording conversations of your own employees. Since this time you have had three other persons fill this vital position during your term of office.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, you lied to the State Attorney about the treatment of his daughter in the jail. The subsequent discovery of her mistreatment at the hands of your corrections officers made national news.  A two-year battle ensued between you and the top legal official in the Seventh Judicial Circuit which severed the strong and vital relationship I had built with that office. This led to another huge pay-out of taxpayers’ money to settle the lawsuit filed by Lisa Tanner.

Just a few other vital statistics the public should be aware of about your eight years as Sheriff. The number of crimes committed are up by over fifty percent even though the population increased by half that amount. Actual crime increased by only ten per cent while I was Sheriff, even though the population increased by the same amount during my four years. The amount of personnel making over $60,000, a very high salary for this County where the mean salary is half of that, has increased from five during my administration to over forty during yours. Clearance rate or cases you have solved have decreased by a third during your administration, which is one of the primary causes of most of the increase in crime.  Because of the huge increase in middle management promotions to buy loyalty from the troops the actual number of line deputies responding to calls is virtually the same as when I was Sheriff. The number of Flagler County deputies arrested during your tenure now stands at six. I had no one arrested during my four years.

As far as being a legend, I will let the public decide who has a record of accomplishment as opposed to scandal. Here are just a few of the improvements I brought to the Sheriff’s Office during my tenure.

1. Accreditation for the first time in the eighty-year history of the Sheriff’s Office

2. The first full time narcotics and street crime unit.

3. The first full time traffic unit.

4, The first full time training officer.

5. The first law enforcement contract with Palm Coast and the opening of a   precinct within city boundaries.

6. The first  SWAT team.

7. Changing to twelve hour shifts to put more deputies on the streets.

8. The first award banquets to recognize high quality work in the office.

9. A complete revamping of security at the courthouse and in the inmate facility.

10. The use of a countywide PAL and School Resource Deputies to prevent juvenile crime.

11. The creation of a modern Mobile Command Vehicle to respond to large scale emergencies.

12. The creation of a Community Oriented Policing policy to encourage better communication with the residents of the County.

I look forward to continuing this debate and allowing the voters to decide who is telling the truth.

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44 Responses for “In a Response, Jim Manfre Recasts Sheriff Fleming’s 8 Years in Harsh Terms”

  1. Jana Clevenger DiNatale via Facebook says:

    They ALL need to be voted out!

  2. Finger Pointing says:

    When one finger points at someone else, there are 4 pointing back at yourself.

    Will all this mud throwing help the other candidates, who don’t have mud on them?

    Can you Mr. Manfre, provide confirmation of your accusations/opinions? Where’s the proof?

  3. Ira Bowman says:

    Manfre did not do anything in his only term as sheriff why would we want him again…

    • Really says:

      Ira-The voters have told him time and time again they don’t-hasn’t he lost the last two times he ran for Sheriff–Manfre just doesn’t get it! Is he not a successful attorney? Has his wife real estate gig turned sour? Maybe he can find a job overseas.

  4. George Bowman says:

    If its Not Broke Dont Fix IT!!!!!!! manfre is not what we need again!

  5. palmcoaster says:

    @Fingerpointing. Unfortunatly the residents of this county too often vote the wrong official to serve us:
    Fleming was voted two terms and look what we got from the start until now.
    Attorney Raven Sword lost her bid for school board to Fleming’s buddy, Fischer and look what we got.
    They are both very much entertwined. Plenty of proof out there…..Are you one of the over 40’s?

  6. Sammy says:

    I did not know that police officers here in Palm Coast make $60,000 a year. Why can’t I find one when I’m being tailgated on Colbert Lane when I’m going 10 mph over the posted speed limit. Why can’t I find one when I pull into the RaceTrack gas station and there THUGS hanging out talking and threating customers. Why can’t I find one when I’m trying to follow the LEGAL turning rules when the idiot behind me is blowing their horn, giving me the finger and threating to shoot me if I don’t turn ILLEGALLY…..Where are the $60,0000 a year officers?

    • dontbesoparanoid says:

      Apparently you think they magically appear. Nowhere do you say you called to report any of these instances.

    • Ed says:

      $60,000 a year? Where are you getting that? Deputies haven’t had ANY raises for the last 5 years and are actually making 3% less then they were 5 years ago. Any deputy making $60,000 a year has been on the job at least 12 years and up. If your looking for a deputy, call 911 and i’m sure one will show up, duh!

  7. seenitall says:

    Just two I know right off the bat to be false…

    #4. Some deputies were at risk of losing their certifications due to the lack of training under the 2001 to 2004 administration.

    #5. untrue. The precinct was established under Sheriff McArthy. Anyone that resided in Palm Coast prior to 2001 knows that.

  8. Think first, act second says:

    I have to add this to the discussion. Personally I like Mr. Manfre, but I don’t think I could vote for him because of this: Read the links about Babylon county in NY and expecially the October 15, 2008 6:26 PM post of Shakespearpc about Mr. Manfre’s refusal to obey a court order. This is when I lost respect for his Sheriffs abilities. How can the chief law enforcement officer of a city, county, state, or federal refuse to obey the order of a judge, and then enforce the laws of the community and expect me to obey them. Now I will also add that I will not be voting for Mr. Fleming or any other incumbent. It is time for a complete change of all incumbents and a new breath of fresh air in the sheriff, county commission and supervisor of elections. Clerk of courts is still under review and the other 2 have not competition, so will probably be reelected by omission. I wish someone from the beach would oppose Revels.

    • seenitall says:

      Manfre also left the county Sheriffless when he left the state in the face of four hurricanes. He abandoned his post, his deputies and the community.

  9. Donna says:

    Checkmate Fleming!

  10. John Smith says:

    I would hope that everyone would remember that Manfre did have his own glass house come tumbling down by refusing court orders and hiding information. He is as unfit for the job again as he was then. He tried for the city manager in FB and was shot down though he probably couldn’t do any worse.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    The intertwine persist with Commissioner Milissa Holland now marrying in April the sheriff’s second in command . Nothing wrong with love choices, but she needs to resign due to conflict of interest.

  12. Jason says:

    Lets get someone new in office that are not part of the “System” here. Time for a new perspective.

  13. PalmCoast says:

    Time for a new sheriff in town!! My vote is with Ray Stevens!!

  14. youngrepublican says:

    Wow! Let the games begin. Although I dont care for Mr Manfre, nor do I think he would make a good sheriff, he has brought out some very valid points. Crime is rampant in our county and numbers can be manipulated. Alot of commanders and chiefs from other areas of the country have learned first hand that manipulation of the record is a two edged sword. The old thought process of ” If I don’t take a report it didnt happen, doesnt stand up under a department audit by FDLE or the FBI of the unified crime reporting system. This should be a very interesting race.


      LETS KEEP TRACK…..SO FAR MANFRE’S MOST RIDICULUS STATEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      “Dispatching a deputy to make an inquiry may have saved the victim’s life as it took medical personnel precious hours to discover the cause of her injuries.”

      The Palm Coast Fire Rescue and the Flagler County Paramedics who did the initial patient contact and exam within minutes, and the ER doctors who completed and did a through exam and treatment
      did not take precious hours………PLEASE!!!

      Oh, and for the record, who changed the policy to stop deputies from responding to med calls???
      SHERIFF MANFRE!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • seenitall says:

        Mr. Manfre changed the policy LOL…so in essence he is arguing over something he is directly responsible for. Maybe he is hoping this incident will cloud peoples judgement? which for some it seems it has. Regardless of what some think of this incident, and no matter how embellished and speculative it gets by supporters for other candidates, Fleming has done a pretty good job as our Sheriff.

        I would also like to know more about a police shooting/killing of a black man in Ossining while he was lying prone on the ground. I found this link:

  15. palmcoaster says:

    @Sammy. Those $60,000 plus officers are probably seating at the administration office giving orders to those in the lower tiers not enough to cover the 23 millions more-less budget the current sheriff cost us “to protect us all… not only his buddies”… Typical case of too many chiefs and very few indians.

  16. palmcoaster says:

    @ThinkFirst. I advise you and all to read the complete following link regarding Fleming as well:

  17. roco says:

    Manfre is a mud flinger and worthless. As posted earlier he had his shot at the job before and clarified his ability which is none. If ego was an elected position he’d win hands down because that’s all he has..

  18. what the f#%k says:

    First off I dont know where they get that deputys make 60,000 a year. If you go to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office website deputy’s start at 33,012 a year, which in this day in age is nothing. The only way a deputy is making 60,000 a year is if he has been with the sheriff’s office for a very long time and at that point they deserve that kind of money for the dangers that deputy’s encounter on a dailey basis. Some people should get their facts strait before they post things.

  19. seenitall says:

    “………On the edge of oblivion
    All the world is Babylon
    And all the love and ev’ryone
    A ship of fools sailing on…….”

  20. palmcoaster says:

    @Roco. In the many pages of this 2010 link provided, see how many deputies salaries go over $70,000 to even over $84,000 when others are only 15,000 to 20,000 only. Big disparity. Just seniority..?
    Volusia county has over 5 times the population (in 2010, 494,593) of Flagler County and their Sheriff budget is about 73 million.
    Here we have our sheriff budget of 22.6 million, on a county with a median income of $30,000, 16.5% unemployment and maybe now if we count all the one’s that already left as per the vacant homes, 95,000 residents or less, to pay for it.
    Manfre is correct about the current gouging. Please document any discrepancies other than here say.

  21. palmcoaster says:

    @Roco and whatt X#$#@. I forgot to provide the volusia Flagler Cty’s salaries link in my comment above. Is several pages. Enter the county and goes alphabetical by name…get informed and these are 2010 records;

  22. Donna says:

    Thank you Mr. Manfre. It appears that the Fischer’s called Sheriff Fleming aprox 48 minutes after the accident, and he did nothing. This woman died. So much for protecting and serving. The only protecting and serving going on is to himself and his pathetic cronies. This is a result of what happens when you think you’re above the law. The people of this county are sick and tired of being fooled and lied to. A hat tip to you for keeping them honest. Now this county is going to have to dish out more money for a probable huge lawsuit coming our way. Now he is going to ask us for his vote? How dare him. I think his campaign has just come to an end. We are patiently awaiting his resignation.

    • Martha says:

      He was told someone hit an animal. He told them to call dispatch and report it. As far as I’m concerned he did what he should have. It was up to the caller at that point to report it. I’m sure if they said that a person was hit the Sheriff would have handled it much differently.

  23. palmcoaster says:

    Palm Coast incorporated in 1999 given the Palmcoasters clamor due to the non services we were receiving under the county unincorporated jurisdiction, we wanted as well to have a new sheriff more in context with our city needs as well, given the fact that Palm Coast was the real sustain of this whole county. Palm Coast was and still is the 800 lbs gorilla in Flagler Cty, due to its tax revenue base.
    Jim Manfre was elected and at least I saw an improvement on our city law enforcement services from the McCarthy era. We could really see our deputies patrolling our city, malls and… our waters as well.
    Then the witch hunt ( just like the one against our current Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks now) started and over his calendar to be handed down to our community leaders and residents that convinced the voters against sheriff Manfre. In other counties the sheriff and even fire departments make calendars with no problems. I actually saw in these 8 years the crime increase, hardly see our deputies patrolling our city, parks and businesses and the bicycle and boat patrols are history! We sure took many steps back, while his budget stands at $22,600,000 now. I knew Manfre as sheriff and I will vote for him again not for the party but for his integrity and against any other unknown as I remember well the first time I met Fleming campaigning in 2004 promising lies I didn’t ask for, just to get my vote. He sure didn’t, as I perceived the danger. Shamefully he stabbed in the back Mr. William Karback another retired law enforcement Republican gentleman of integrity that helped Fleming relentlessly in his election campaign as he was a newcomer here. Mr.Karback paid a price being the second in command with extensive law enforcement credentials, even teaching in universities, confronting Fleming for hiring a protege with no law enforcement training when required by Florida law. As you all see is not about partisan feeling here as Mr .Manfre is a Democrat and Mr Karback is a Republican, is about the real law enforcement we deserve to protect us all. Any of those two gentlemen running for sheriff here, will get my vote.

  24. Tim says:

    That is all we need is Manfre as sheriff. How many times are you told no before you listen. He is applying for any job he can find, he even applied for the $110,000 lady’s job. I would have to say I would rather have the $110,000 lady than Jim Manfre anyday.

  25. palmcoaster says:

    @ Tim. Which lady, can you document ?

  26. tulip says:

    It sounds like he means the lady named Helga Eckert who will be heading the Economic Developement Council.

  27. Kip Durocher says:

    Think back to Robin Hood and the meanie Sheriff of Nottingham. Appointed by the king.
    The new United States is abhorred by this practice.
    Anything different is better.
    So here we are now with political hacks like all the contestants and the incumbent
    vying for control of the public law teat (read$$$$$-cronyism)!

    This is an office that should have an employee the caliber of a county manager.
    Law enforcement should be subservient to the local political rigging contest.
    Then we would not have to deal with all the bullshit, lies and deceit that we do now.
    Politicians – a more scurrilous bunch there never was.
    Don’t tell all the police chiefs that it is impossible.

  28. Martha says:

    I voted Fleming twice and will again this third time.

  29. Bullgator2410 says:

    Charles “Bub” Robson and Donald J Brock and Rocky Lawrence were a part of the very first S.W.A.T. team. None of the three of them ever turned a hand for a dime for Jim Manfre and I am willing to bet they wouldn’t.

    Jim, please take your act somewhere else. You and O’brien can co-star in Paris as aging sleuths or something. Take your bow here……and just realize if you run here all you are doing is ‘stimulating the economy’. Please spend money for time on local radio stations, use your money for local print shops to do signs, etc. Make this run count for more than humor.

  30. Bullgator2410 says:

    Douglas Cottam 78,000?! wow!

  31. Specsae1 says:

    Please show me a Deputy in Flagler County making $60,000! Not a Sergeant or above but a Deputy. And if $60,000 is a lot of money for a Sergeant in law enforcement in 2012 then I guess we need to just have security guards watching over our community, schools and roads.

  32. Specsae1 says:

    Oh and I’m not including overtime because you can’t blame them if they want to give up even more of their lives to help make ends meet!

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