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Matt Doughney Named Flagler Beach’s Police Chief (But Just Call Him Captain)

| October 15, 2013

Matt Doughney

Matt Doughney

City Manager Bruce Campbell Tuesday morning named Matt Doughney, the former Daytona Beach cop and Avon Park police chief, Flagler Beach’s new police chief. Campbell offered him the job in person at Flagler Beach City Hall this morning, and Doughney accepted, though he must still clear a physical. Doughney will have the title of captain and be paid $51,500 a year. He will start on Nov. 4.

Doughney outlasted nine other applicants, including a shortlist that included former Flagler County Sheriff’s Maj. Steve Clair and former sheriff’s deputy Joe Sisti, who is currently an investigator with the State Attorney’s office. Doughney will be replacing Dan Cody, whom Campbell forced into retirement a few weeks ago.

Cody was on vacation this week, though he was officially still employed as police chief. Campbell decided earlier this year to eliminate the chief’s position, which pays $70,000 a year, and replace it with that of captain. He is similarly reorganizing the fire department.

For Campbell, Doughney’s appointment goes against the grain of local preferences, which had heavily favored Sisti or Clair (and more Clair than Sisti), who were seen as more ingrained into the community–a characteristic Campbell may have seen as a negative in his attempt to change the culture of the police department. But Campbell was also pressured by Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre not to appoint Clair, whom Manfre fired on the first day of his tenure as sheriff in January. Clair had served more than 20 years at the sheriff’s office, including through the four years of Manfre’s first tenure there between 20001 and 2005.

“I really didn’t receive any pressure about any of them,” Campbell said in an interview in mid-afternoon Monday. “I know there were external factors out there, external noise if you will, but I really try not to pay any attention to that.”

Bruce Campbell (© FlaglerLive)

Bruce Campbell (© FlaglerLive)

Campbell did invite Manfre to City Hall to talk about the choices, however, as became widely known among city employees’ and residents’ ranks. “He gave me his opinion, I took that in the gallon jug of everything that was put into the mix and not weigh it in any way,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t up to sheriff Manfre, it wasn’t up to anybody in the county, it wasn’t up to anyone in Bunnell. It was up to the manager of Flagler Beach and I take full responsibility for that decision. Hopefully it was the right decision, and I think it’s going to be proved to be beneficial and the right decision for our city. And if people want to second guess me, that’s fine too. It kind of comes with the territory, doesn’t it? But what everybody should remember is the process we went through and the time that I spent. It’s a little bit different than hearing somebody’s opinion. We looked into it with great depth.”

Since 2010, Doughney has been a juvenile court liaison at Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Health Care, where he coordinated drug-abuse treatment for juveniles and worked with various branches of the judicial and police establishment. He was police chief of Avon Park from 2008 to 2010, overseeing 24 police officers and a nearly $2 million budget–about twice the size of the Flagler Beach Police Department.

Before that, he’d served for almost 20 years at the Daytona Beach Police Department–in criminal investigations, district policing and special operations, rising to the rank of captain. He was also assigned to the department’s narcotics task force, the patrol division and the traffic unit in earlier years.

“I guess I just congratulate Bruce on making his decision,” Commissioner Kim Carney said. “The city commission, we don’t have a any role to play in this, it’s Bruce’s decision from what’s best from whom he had to pick from. The process went very well. I think everybody I talked to that was part of the process thought it was very fair and equitable. Now this is where Bruce has his experience in hiring and firing on the business side of it so he made his call.”

But Carney left no doubt where she stood. “Every single person I talked to wanted Steve Clair. As far as I know Bruce knew the pulse of the community, but I don’t know. I don’t know why he made the judgment he made.”

Time will tell, Carney said, whether Campbell’s judgment was the right one for the police department and the community. She wondered why the job was being given to someone from outside the county (Doughney lives in south Volusia). Carney said she can only evaluate Campbell at his evaluation time. “I wish I did have a vote, but I don’t, so it’s going to be a time will tell kind of thing,” Carney said.


Campbell was said to be working on a press release about the announcement around midday Tuesday.

The release, issued at 1:50 this afternoon, included the following statement from Campbell: “All three of these candidates are well qualified, having exceptional experience in law enforcement. They all scored well in the interview, and were articulate in their presentations at our recent Meet and Greet. It really boiled down to Matt having the right combination of education, training, and experience best suited for Flagler Beach at this point in time.”

“I’m very happy,” Steve Settle, chairman of the city commission, said, half an hour after getting a call from Campbell informing him of the pick. “This is the choice under our charter that the city manager makes so I would make no attempt to second guess his choice. I think it’ll work out very well.”

Settle, too, had been hearing his share of residents’ ideas. “What I’d been hearing is that we had three very strong candidates with different constituencies pushing each,” Settle said. “I heard a lot about Mr. Sisti, because of his background and his experience with the State Attorney’s office. That would be an asset. I also heard a lot about Mr. Clair and a lot of people were pushing him. Bruce went through the interviewing process in great detail. The only thing commissioners saw was what we saw when we sat through that forum process a week and a half ago.”

As for any influence from the sheriff, Settle said that did not play a role in the decision, from what he knew. “This was purely merit,” he said.

Campbell said it had been “a difficult process from the beginning” because “we had so many darn good candidates.”

Campbell spent almost three hours with each of the final three candidates Monday and Tuesday, to understand their management philosophy and what he expected of them, including having a bigger presence on the streets. “It became clear to me after Tuesday that Matt had what I think for this position, what we’re looking for. Not that the other two wouldn’t have been good candidates, good fits, but Matt was the better candidate for us,” Campbell said.

The city manager had a sense about what each city commissioner may have felt about a given candidate, “but I didn’t get pressured one bit from the commissioners” as far as who should get the job, he said. And while he is aware of the not altogether enthusiastic reaction to the Doughney appointment, Campbell said that “six months from now the residents of Flagler Beach are going to be saying wow. I really believe that.”

Doughney intends to move to Flagler, where he’s looking for a three-bedroom house, though the move is not a requirement of the job. Campbell hopes Doughney will live in Flagler Beach. He said he won’t be upset if he ends up, say, in Grand Haven, for lack of finding exactly what he wants on the barrier island.

Doughneny will lead a department-wide meeting on Oct. 22 at 8 a.m., in the presence of Cody. He will spend the following day with him, and be ready to take over on Nov. 4.

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28 Responses for “Matt Doughney Named Flagler Beach’s Police Chief (But Just Call Him Captain)”

  1. Rick says:

    I’m sure this guy will be a pawn for the short-term City Mgr. when Cambell is gone so will he be. Pathetic Cambell cowered to Manfre. What a wuss!

  2. HJ says:

    Campbell is a joke…. Like Manfre !!
    Really?? you were pressured not to hire Steve Clair because Manfre said not to, and that’s what you base your decision on ? What a damn shame !!! All I have to say is one thing…
    DUMB and DUMBER !!!!!!

  3. Girl says:

    Don’t know why they even bother, it was all a shame, they were going to pick him anyway. So who is running the town, oh yea…

  4. Seriously says:

    lol Steve clair was def not the right choice. this city has made a lot of mistakes by hiring best buddy’s and friends. its about time they hired from the outside and not the left over baggage from the fcso. Campbell made the right choice on this one. surprisingly

  5. Nathan says:

    So disappointed.

  6. Soccer mom says:

    Bruce Campbell, you made another very bad decision. Steve Clair was the people’s choice. It boiled down to Bruce’s vote. Another politician bought out. Good luck to Flagler Beach police department…you’re going to need it.

  7. Enlightened says:

    I think this County needs some new blood. Dustin and Clair are just the same old same same old. Maybe now we can grow and change. Congrats to you Captain.

  8. Manfre says "say hello to my little friend" says:

    Time for me to sell my house and move outta Flagler Beach. This guy lives in Volusia and is the wrong choice. Sad that we have to again deal with a bad decision made by our city manager. Manfre had already said in certain circles that Clair didn’t have a chance….omg dirty.

  9. Ray Thorne says:

    No reason to take into consideration the expressed opinions of the people who pay your salary.

  10. Mommie2 says:

    Are you kidding me or what !!!! So let me see if I have this straight: The “little general” gets his way, he now runs the 3 law enforcement agency’s in this 2 horse town.

    Steve Clair, clearly has the expertise, to run the agency with integrity, respect, and equality. I guess here in Flagler County that doesn’t count. I guess you need to be as corrupt as the next guy…

    Oh and what money is this “little general” saving anyway ??? He hires a CSI , and makes a $75,000.00 commitment to a DNA agency to “process” the crime scene material !!! Really !!!!

    No integrity, No respect for the community, … … God Bless those who are still working there…

  11. JL says:

    Well, I agree that the city manager shouldn’t worry about public opinion. The public rarely looks at all aspects. It’s not a popularity contest. There are a lot of factors to consider when hiring a police chief (oops, sorry Captain). The same goes for when they hire the fire chief (ok, captain).
    But what I disagree with is calling them both “captains.” They are chiefs of the department. And chiefs can still be hands on. But what the city manager doesn’t realize, if they only have the title of captain, they will not be allowed to participate in some state wide or nationwide meetings/gatherings/seminars for Police Chiefs, or Fire Chiefs. The city manager is NOT the Police Chief or the Fire Chief. He needs to allow these men to be called “Chiefs,” and let them run their departments as they see fit. They have the expertise in those areas, not the city manager.
    It looks like he did a great job in choosing the head of the Police department. I give him congrats on that. It is a big responsibility and there was no way he was going to make everyone happy. The reputations of the police dept and fire dept. (especially) need to be fixed. And he chose someone that he believes can help the police dept. I’m sure he will do the same when it’s time for the chosing the fire dept. captain as well.

    • Mommie2 says:

      Ok so the title of “Captain” has it limitations, Here’s a question for all who care or don’t for that matter :
      How is it that “the Sheriff” wears full uniform, carries a firearm and has “NEVER” been a sworn officer ? How is he allowed to “masquerade” as a member of “law enforcement” ? … He is a “Lawyer” , so I guess he knows just how far & much he can push the envelope & not get caught !!!!

  12. Bob says:

    Live and learn. Flagler Beach is going to be the laughing stock along with Bunnell. Look at all the issues since Campbell stepped up….I think it’s time he step down!

  13. Girl says:

    Oh by the way, isn’t this new Captain tight with Hoffman the new Commander or whatever he is called over at FCSO – as he was one of the Oral Board members who did interviews – am I the only one who see’s something fishy….????

  14. FB Insider says:

    Does anyone else remember when Bruce Campbell was hired? I do. It was nothing short of a popularity contest that was started by his neighbors in the south end of the city. Strangely enough, Campbell now says that the positions should not be based on popularity but the best candidate. Well I also remember that there were many more qualified candidates for the position, yet he won his by popularity and a ton of signatures on a petition. Guess what’s good for one is good for the other.

  15. AD says:

    Hey and while you’re at it Campbell…why don’t you take a long vacation with Manfre, it’s on him…err I mean, it’s on us…he’s driving on our tax dollars. Yep, I guess Campbell just had to listen to the threats of Manfre…no one wants to make a narcissistic jerk mad. As my high school teacher once said..Politics; the dirtiest word in the dictionary. Is it legal under the sunshine law to have private meetings with those in public service?

  16. Outsider says:

    The Napoleanic sheriff has no business putting his nose into Flagler Beach’s business. He doesn’t even have the common sense to rent a car when he goes on vacation, and he wants to tell others how to manage their affairs???

  17. please pinch me says:

    as is par for the course, i am confused by bruce campbell’s inane statements. let’s see, he INVITED manfre to city hall to ‘talk’ about his ‘choices’….on at least three occasions in the week prior to announcing his decision….yet he didn’t weigh his opinion in any way?? really?? and then he conducted a ‘fair and equitable’ interview process ‘in great detail’ ? let me also try to get this straight…??….you assemble an interview panel of yourself, a civilian, the police chief you just canned and a former twenty year colleague and personal friend of ONE of your applicants….oh yeah, i forgot, who had also just been hired in a command position by the former grudge bearing boss of the other two applicants. hmm. for some reason that just does not shake as being in the least bit above board and lacks any merit as an ethical or fair evaluation of the candidates when the panel was so clearly biased. shameful. and what is next? cody is going to get that political endorsement he is seeking from both manfre and hoffman when he puts in for the chief’s position in bunnell??? i think you’ve gone and sold your soul to the devil, sir.

  18. Beach Citizen says:

    Wow…it amazes me how many citizens in this town were so sure Clair was the right choice…I had no idea we had so many residents qualified to make those decisions!!

    Who knows how this will play out, but it is NO DOUBT in the best interest of this town to break up the good ol’ boy cronies

  19. OOPS!!!!! says:

    Bum deal for Steve Clair…Just another rug pulled out from a TRUE & DEDICATED law enforcement officer.

    Wonder why Cambell invited Manfre to discuss the decision YET supposedly had no influence on his decision..

    Yeah right give me a break.. You just let a GOOD man go…

  20. lou says:

    CONGRATULATIONS CAPTAIN DOUGHNEY AND WELCOME TO FLAGLER BEACH! From what I’ve read, heard and seen, the city manager had a tough decision to make. Even with the few negative ninnies out there, the majority of the city still trusts his judgement and the process of selection couldn’t have been more fair. I am not the only one who welcomes you and looks forward to you serving our city! As for you, Mr. Campbell, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, and believe me…….” there’s more for ya than against ya”.

  21. The Oracle says:

    Congratulations to both the City and Chief Doughney. Matt is a true law enforcement professional. He is well educated, trained,and connected. He is well known and respected on the local, state and national level. He has been an Adjunct Facility member at Daytona State College for a number of years, and is a “COP’s, COP”. He is on a first name basis, with all of the law enforcement leaders in Flagler/Volusia, and will bring Flagler Beach to the next level. City Manager Campbell, made a wise decision, and was fortunate to bring in someone with the credentials, education, and overall respect that Chief Doughney has. We wish the Chief, the Manager, and the City all of the best as they move forward toward a more professional level of service. GREAT CHOICE!!

  22. Dedicated says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Campbell!

    So many city managers give in to the popular choice for concern of protecting their job and Mr. Campbell made his choice based on what’s right for the city of Flagler Beach regardless of pressure to hire a lesser qualified candidate. Doughney has the education, the experience and the desire to truly make a difference in this wonderful little town. Doughney has agreed to uproot his family to move within the city limits of Flagler Beach even though, he only lives a short distance away in South Daytona. It is time to move on with someone fresh from the outside so this police department can get back to policing and the officers can have a fresh start with a true professional leader to follow. Mr. Campbell, as time passes you will be recognized and praised for getting both of these departments back on track and to a standard everyone will be proud of. It won’t be long before everyone sees what you did when choosing Captain Doughney to lead your Police Department. JOB WELL DONE!

  23. FB Insider says:

    Now let’s see how long it is going to take for Campbell to find someone to run the fire department. Still not sure why he was in such a rush to find a leader for a department which already had leadership in place; while neglecting the fire department. He claims he is “running it”. That is interesting, as state statute states an individual in charge of a fire department must possess firefighter minimum standards training. I have yet to see Mr. Campbell’s firefighting certificate.

    Then again, maybe it is just part of one of his master plans. His “acting chief” is STILL on paid admin leave since July due to CRIMINAL charges. Funny, he appoints the police “captain” the week Pace is having his court appearance (tomorrow 10/17) for scheduling a trial. Who wants to bet the appointment of a Fire Captain is MUCH faster than that of the police department? Campbell is banking on Pace being found not guilty so he can put him back in the “Captain” position. We taking bets?

  24. NOSTRADAMUS says:

    Helloooooooooo Mayberry, & Ya’ll Thought I Lost my Prediction Ability’s!!!!! Go Back & read What i posted on the 3 Finalists !!!! Hey JL, The City Mgr, The Mayor & The Commissioners Had Better Listen to What We the Residents Want or Its’s OUT the Door !!!! IOU, You Need to Do Your Home Work, Because There are more Disgruntled Residents in This City Than EVER Before in The 35 Years We have been here!!!! “BRUCE ALMIGHTY” Has Put US on The MAP & On The Chopping Block at The Same Time, That’s For SURE !!!! PLEASE PINCH ME & FB INSIDER You Both Hit The Nail on The Head !!!! Mommie 2, You Get Honors for Your Comment, Manfre with a Weapon on His person is “SCARY” !!!! He Has Enough Problems Driving a Motor Vehicle, That By the way He Should’t Be Driving for Personal Use!!! & The Band Played ON !!!!!

  25. Perched Pellican says:

    Flagler Beach must be in competition with Bunnell for the “Who’s the Fool” award. When Flagler Beach can’t hire locally, that speaks volumes!

  26. Bridgetender69 says:

    Good Luck Captain, its a shame you are not there in the1970’s- 1980’s when Flagler was great. Palm Coast has now come to the county and brought all its problems that the masses were escaping from with them. What a shame, my only hope is that the city of Palm Coast gets their own Police department, and the Sheriff’s Office is reduced to the jail, courthouse and 4 or 5 covering the unincorporated areas.

  27. FBOutsider says:

    First off there are so many haters in here. See how the man does on the job. All 3 applicants are good guys. Second you don’t make yourself look good by bashing others, you should know that insider. Third what does the police chief have to do with Pace? Are we still worked up over people loosing their job for breaking policy?

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