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Steve Cole Will Head Sheriff’s Investigative Division While Still Overseeing School Cops

| August 2, 2013

Cpl. Don Apperson, left, remains in charge of day-to-day supervision of the six school resource deputies in Flagler County schools, while Cmdr. Steve Cole will head the sheriff's office investigative division, which also oversees the school cops. (© FlaglerLive)

Cpl. Don Apperson, left, remains in charge of day-to-day supervision of the six school resource deputies in Flagler County schools, while Cmdr. Steve Cole will head the sheriff’s office investigative division, which also oversees the school cops. (© FlaglerLive)

When Steve Cole was appointed supervisor of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s corps of school resource deputies in January, Sheriff Jim Manfre expected that group of cops to almost double in size. The school district wanted to return school cops to elementary schools by this month. But to pay for the expansion, the district had pegged the pledge to the success of a school-tax referendum in May. That referendum failed. The expansion had to be shelved.

Along the way, and for unrelated reasons, Jack Bisland, head of the sheriff’s investigative division, resigned his $83,000-a-year position after just six months on the job, choosing to return to the State Attorney’s office and resume his former job there as an investigator.

On Friday, the sheriff’s office announced that Cole, formerly a lieutenant and now a commander, would be the new head of the investigative division, overseeing 16 investigators and 11 other people, including six school deputies, whose day-to-day duties will be overseen by Cpl. Don Apperson. (The school cops are part of the same division).

“Commander Cole is a veteran law enforcement officer who has built his career in Flagler County,” Manfre said in a release. “He has shown his commitment to this community and he is extremely qualified for this post.”

The division’s major-case investigators have been busy this year with the homicides of four individuals on Manfre’s watch, two of them unsolved.

The position of lieutenant in the investigation division, previously held by Cole, is being eliminated. Two other management positions are also slated to be eliminated in the next few months. “These moves are an effort to reduce the top heavy management of this agency and reduce our operating costs,” Manfre said. The division is adding a civilian crime scene technician. Among the 16 investigators reporting to Cole, seven work in property crime, five work major cases and four work narcotics.


Cole joined the sheriff’s office as a road patrol deputy in 1994 and has since served in almost every division of the agency, including many years as an investigator and supervisor in the investigative division, where he became a corporal, focusing on gangs, crimes against children, homicides and lesser crimes. In 2007, he was promoted to sergeant while directing the investigations division. In November 2011, he was promoted to Lieutenant and served as a Watch Commander for the Road Patrol Division until January 2013 when he was assigned to the investigations division and appointed supervisor of the School Resource Division and Special Victims Section. (His as a lieutenant was $77,000. His new salary will be $83,000.)

While in the ISD, Cole headed up two long term Racketeering Investigations that included the dismantling of a local “Blood” street gang and a career criminal burglary ring, the sheriff’s office noted in a release. He was recognized for his work by the State Attorney’s Office and the Office of Statewide Prosecution. These racketeering cases are the only such investigations that the Flagler sheriff’s office has conducted in the history of the agency. Cole is also the only member of the FCSO to hold a “Top Secret” clearance from the FBI.

He is a graduate of Flagler College where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration before continuing on to obtain his Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a Concentration in Public Safety Management from Walden University. Cole is an adjunct professor at St. Johns River College.

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18 Responses for “Steve Cole Will Head Sheriff’s Investigative Division While Still Overseeing School Cops”

  1. Withheld to protect the innocent says:

    Sheriff Manfre promised all his deputies that they would be allowed to EARN their positions. Here is the truth regarding this promotion. The Sheriff hired Jack Bisland at the beginning of his administration to head up investigations. Jack Bisland quite like nearly everyone that was a part of Manfre’s transition team. So the Sheriff posted the position and encouraged everyone who met the qualifications to apply. Suddenly he promotes Lt Cole. The only problem is that Lt. Cole Does not meet the quallifications that were in the posting for the commander of investigations. NO ONE in the agency met the qualifications of that posting. Sheriff Manfre proved that he says one thing and does another. He promoted Lt. Cole without allowing any one else to put in for that position because the posting said you have to quality to apply. So no one applied and the Sheriff hand picked Cole like he had intended to do from the start.

  2. Marissa says:

    For each day that passes in the unsolved murder of the gas station clerk, the more difficult it becomes to solve. There is file footage which is not the best but more has to be done to get this cold bloodied killer off the street and given his just desserts. Come on Manfre! Have you uncovered every rock and is your detective division up to the task??? We’re not interested in these public relations photo ops.

  3. Solo says:

    I would like to first congratulate Commander Cole I’m sure his promotion is well deserved though the handling of the procedure may be in question? based on the above post.
    That aside, I am curious to know about this quote from the Sheriff:
    ” Two other management positions are also slated to be eliminated in the next few months. “These moves are an effort to reduce the top heavy management of this agency and reduce our operating costs,” Manfre said.”

    How do you reduce what he’s labeled as top heavy management by making a promotion?
    How do you reduce operating cost by increasing the promoted’s salary?
    Maybe I’m just dumb because this does not read like a position was eliminated. More like the position and salary were just upgraded.

  4. Ray Thorne says:

    ‘Along the way, and for unrelated reasons, Jack Bisland, head of the sheriff’s investigative division, resigned his $83,000-a-year position after just six months on the job, choosing to return to the State Attorney’s office and resume his former job there as an investigator.’

    What were the unrelated reasons?

    • Reds says:

      The unrelated reasons is that the grass isn’t always greener. The Sheriff’s office is about to implode as Manfre continues to run it into the ground. I’m sure there will be more to come.

  5. confidential says:

    Congratulations to Commander Cole!!
    He brings his impressive credentials to our Sheriff Department.

  6. PC Aviator says:

    At “Withheld…” apparently “earning” your position means being able to drink the Kool-Aid and gargle at the same time. Bisland was a great addition to the agency. The reason he left is because he saw some “borderline criminal” things going on in the administration. I am slightly disappointed as I would think a man of Jack’s integrity would come forward with his findings especially now that he is back with the State Attorney. Manfre, or rather Staly, since he sent out the email, made it sound that Bisland had an offer he could not refuse. Almost 50% reduction in salary does not make it an “opportunity.” It makes it a chance to get the hell out of the fire and be able to sleep at night. Now, if Jack wants to clear his conscience and help those left in the fire he needs to bring forth the information he has.

    At “Marissa”….photo ops are the backbone of the Manfre Administration. Any name recognition will garner votes in the next election. Manfre has hired a PR firm with Cindy Dalecki leading the efforts. And, when the media selectively reports information from the FCSO, it makes it very difficult to get the truth out there. When you follow the political webs that Manfre has woven with the newspaper from the south, it makes for interesting bed fellows.

    At “Solo” ….while Cole ran Investigations in the past, the criteria posted by FCSO Human Resources listed the following:
    • Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree preferred (Cole has a Master’s)
    • Graduate from FBI National Academy or Southern Police Institute (Cole has neither)
    • 15 years command experience (Cole has less than two years as stated in the article)

    There is no one in the agency that meets the criteria. Bob Weber might come close depending on how long he was a lieutenant in New York. Ironically, looking at the job postings for vacancies for Chief of Police, most middle size agencies only require 5-7 years command experience to be chief. Manfre wanted 15 YEARS COMMAND EXPERIENCE to run investigations.

    Chris Sepe was a Lieutenant in investigations and was moved over to special operations. That position was there under Fleming. It is all a shell game. There is an attorney forour sheriff. Ask Manfre where he went to the academy to get his 20, or 30 or 35 years of experience as a law enforcement officer. He can’t keep his own lies straight.

    As far as who he will lay-off, unless Manfre eliminates civilian positions, the options for two other middle managers positions are as follows:
    • Jeff Stuart: doubtful; he rides both sides of the fence. He was mad that Chris Sepe got the Special Operations position but Stuart is a master at swinging off both sides of the fence. Stuart would serve Kool-Aid if he were allowed. Bovino does not like him.
    • Chris Sepe: Sepe was just moved from Investigations to be the lieutenant over Special Operations or “Central Command” and to fill in as “acting” commander while Bovino is out. His parents donated to Manfre’s campaign. Sepe likes to say “I didn’t want this” but he sure as heck did not turn it down. Wonder what he thinks now that Cole got a Commanders position instead of him?
    • Lynn Cattogio: Manfre can’t stand her. Manfre demoted her from captain to lieutenant. Manfre could have easily given her the commander’s position that was given to Cole if he wanted to. She openly supported Fleming and Manfre has openly let people know that he does not want her at FCSO.
    • Greg Weston: Manfre transferred him from training to patrol to accommodate political support from Sgt. Mike Fink. Weston has a target on his back from driving to Gainesville to escort the deceased son of Deputy Kaphan back to the county. Bovino was furious about it. Weston has not backed down though.
    • Steve Birdsong: Manfre demoted him from lieutenant to deputy at the transition. Birdsong was collateral damage because David O’Brien didn’t like him. Birdsong was a loyal supporter of Steve Clair and a K-9 handler that the K-9 deputies (Smith, Guida and Welker) tried to throw under the bus. Manfre did return him to the rank of lieutenant in March but made him sign a waiver saying he would not sue the agency. If it was his plan to eliminate two middle manager’s positions why did Manfre re-promote Birdsong? Budget talks in the agency begin back in March yet, Manfre can feel like God as he plays with people’s lives.
    • Bob Weber: that would be funny. But, he is definitely safe. He endorsed Manfre’s agenda at every turn.
    • There are four lieutenants at the jail but Manfre has chosen to leave that branch of the agency alone. It is hard to get or keep corrections officers. They have lost three corrections deputies in the last three weeks and two more are supposed to be leaving soon. Manfre chooses to target the law enforcement side of the agency.

    Consider civilian managers do not save as much money as sworn due to the higher retirement/benefits they are probably safe.

    At “Ray Thorne” Bisland’s unrelated reasons were quite simple. He thought he could make a difference and bring the agency to a new level like Manfre promised. The problem came when Manfre’s political appointees (Carr and Koep) were unable to perform the duties in their newly created position (Carr was appointed the Crime Scene Technician and was unable to do the job so he got transferred in to the schools; Koep couldn’t handle Special Investigations so that moved him to Major Case and put Jason Neat back in to special investigations which is where he was on under Fleming.). Now, Bisland wanted to get rid of Koep all together but Manfre would not let him. Bisland got out because he could not stand to watch Manfre humiliate and demean good workers. Step up, Jack. You are a man of honor and integrity.

    Cole has done some great things throughout his career. If he met the criteria it would be one thing but he clearly does not. Shame on him for taking the position. Divide and conquer, Cole. We have seen it before and history is repeating itself. Call Maronski. Look what he did to your Jaguar’s buddy, O’Brien. Selling your soul all for a $6,000 raise. Shameful.

  7. retired says:

    There seems to be quite a bit of turnover in the FCSO. A person does not take such a sensitive post as Mr, Bisland and leave it in under six months for no particular reason. All of this would appear to have a negative impact on the morale of the agency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Morale of the agency has never been good. It all depends on who is part of the current Sheriff’s click. The ones on the outside always get hurt. There is no making anybody there happy. I have never seen such a bounce of dysfunctional and unprofessional people in one place before. Oh there are some good employees there, don’t get me wrong. But most of them are power hungry and only care about the money. I think the County needs to do a pay audit and save our tax dollars by lowering their pay.

  8. Solo says:

    I am one who votes responsibly looking at candidate’s credentials for the positions they run for. In Sheriff Manfres bio that was posted on the SOE website, I recall it said he had 30 something years in law enforcement. Is that not true? and if not true then how does a candidate get away with misleading (lying to) the voting public? I thought he was a cop…

  9. honestly says:

    It appears that the sheriff might have Napoleans little man syndrome and holds grudges so beware.

  10. Citizen says:

    Lower ranking deputies have not had a raise for uears. Thic could be a reason for a few of them leaving. Where was Manfre’s promise of a raise?

  11. Marissa says:

    @ honestly says: LOL, almost pixxed in my pants.

  12. Liberated One says:

    There is no hope for that agency. FDLE needs to come in and clean house of all ranking persons. One of the most corrupt places I have ever seen. Reminds me of the movie Copland.

  13. Sally says:

    Officers that are paid to protect and serve should not have to go through this . From day one when Clair and I am not sure who the other upper rank officer were let go I was concerned. How do you go into a position of sheriff and turn the department into complete disarray. I am sure there were deputies who did not even know who their supervisor was until they reported to work with no heads up. Well that right there in my mind is jeopardizing citizens safety. Well I can only come to one conclusion. The so called sheriff obviously does not care about us citizens. Proof being morale is important and being recognized is extremely important for anyone to be at their best no matter what line of work. That being said a true sheriff would put aside his personal feelings for the good of the county.

  14. William Strauss says:

    At PC aviator,

    You made negative comments about several deputies, as well as multiple supervisors in your scathing response.
    You obviously have a bone to pick with at least 5 or 6 people in the FCSO. Why do it anonymously?
    If you have issues with these people why not have a face to face conversation with them.
    Although you may have some valid concerns. they carry much less weight when you hide behind a veil of secrecy & refuse to identify yourself.
    After all this isn’t Serpico

  15. Ray Thorne says:

    “Commander Cole is a veteran law enforcement officer who has built his career in Flagler County,” Manfre said in a release. “He has shown his commitment to this community and he is extremely qualified for this post.”

    Fast forward to 2015. Cole has been removed from the Investigative Division and is now assigned to the Courthouse. Why?

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