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Deputy David Malta, Class of ’87, Is Latest Long-Timer to Retire from Sheriff’s Office

| April 26, 2016

flagler sheriff deputy david malta

Deputy David Malta this afternoon in a courtroom. He’d spent his last two years as Judge Melissa Moore-Stens’s bailiff. His last shift ended at 4:30 p.m. (© FlaglerLive)

At 4:30 this afternoon, David Malta’s 29-year career with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office came to an end as he became yet another one of the department’s longest-serving veterans to retire.

Malta had for the past two years been County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens’s deputy—and bodyguard—providing protection at all the judge’s public functions. Every judge is assigned  one such deputy. Malta’s assignment goes to Anthony Marino, a 14-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.

“David has been a terrific bailiff and his presence in the Courthouse and throughout the Sheriff’s office will be sorely missed,” Moore-Stens said in a statement this afternoon.

The Jamestown, N.Y. native theoretically started his career at the sheriff’s office in 1983, when he first moved to the county at a friend’s suggestion. His friend worked at the sheriff’s office. Malta became a corrections deputy at the jail under Sheriff Bob McCarthy, who’d just then been appointed to the position by Gov. Bob Graham and would keep the job 17 years. Malta would keep his at the jail just a few months: the $8,800 pay—the equivalent of $21,000 in current dollars—just wasn’t cutting it. (These days detention deputies start at a little over $35,000.)

So he left, became a Palm Coast Fire Department volunteer and before long was one of just two paid firefighters in that young department. In the brutal wildfires of 1985—days Malta still remembers like fresh memories—he was the only paid fireman at the time, he said. After that he had stints with the Bunnell Police Department and in Volusia before his hiring in earnest as a deputy at the sheriff’s office.

He was sworn on Sept. 23, 1987.

His salary was a bit better than at the jail. He had to think a while before guessing it at around $23,000 to $24,000, likely much higher than it actually was, since a $24,000 would work out to the equivalent of $57,400 in current dollars—not the sort of salary a starting deputy would have been making. Whatever may have been the actual sum, Malta made his way up, retiring at well over $71,000. (He reached the rank of major at one point but was then demoted at the end of the first Manfre administration, in 2004.)

At 52, he’s still too young to look the part of a retiree. He certainly didn’t on Tuesday as a court session was ending in Judge Matthew Foxman’s courtroom—Moore-Stens wasn’t without a bailiff: Marino was already on the job—and Malta was essentially on a farewell mini-tour. He’d already hung up his sheriff’s uniform for a suit jacket, a small sheriff’s pin the only visible hint that he was still on the force.

“It’s bittersweet, you know,” he said, speaking with reporters and County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen. “I couldn’t stay even if I wanted to, so I have to leave.” He said despite the strains affecting law enforcement in the past couple of years since the shooting death of a teen in Ferguson, Mo., “it doesn’t really bother me, I want to stay to try to continue to help.”


Memories of two frights on I-95 and no regrets about three decades on the job.
 


Malta’s retirement was foreordained five years ago when he entered the state’s Deferred Retirement Option program better known as “DROP,” which allows members of the Florida Retirement System to accrue retirement benefits with interest over their last five years of employment then get that accrued benefit in a lump-sum payment if they so choose. But retirement at that point is mandatory. They can return to work for a public agency a year later without penalty to their retirement account. Malta is leaving that option open.

Standing at the entrance to Foxman’s courtroom, Malta remember two of his scariest incidents on the job.

“My wife and I talked about it last night,” he said. “There were two that I can remember where it was like, that could have been it. One was on the Interstate, working on an interdiction. I was in charge of the interdiction unit for four years on the Interstate back when—I don’t know if you remember Bob Vogel down in Volusia County, the sheriff’s office, back when interdiction was big, trying to get the drugs, the money and everything. I was on a traffic stop. It was at night, and I just turned around from the driver’s side window and turned around to walk back to my truck. As soon as I did a U-Haul was coming northbound, and he probably missed me by—his mirror missed me by inches, enough to where the woman in the car, it freaked her out. She was like, Oh my God, are you all right? And the other deputy that was backing me up, he stepped aside, he looked at me, he was pale and we all stood there for a second, oh my God. It turns out he was a retired law enforcement officer out of Pennsylvania. To him it was no big deal, but it was funny. He got a ticket for failure to stay in his lane.

david malta retirement

‘I see it all with rose-colored glasses right now,’ Malta, who recently became a grandfather, said. (© FlaglerLive)

“The other time was on the Interstate, it was actually me and Larry Jones,” Malta continued, referring to one of the two other long-time veterans who recently retired: Jones retired in 2014 (and is now challenging Sheriff Jim Manfre in the Democratic primary; the third long-timer to retire was Michael van Buren, who had started the same year as Malta). “We were both working nights, he was my corporal, and I did a traffic stop on the Interstate. There were four people in the car. They had just done a drug transaction, they’d sold it. There were four guys in the car, driver, front-seat passenger, two in the backseat. They didn’t see Larry walk up to the passenger side. I stayed on the driver’s side and made contact with the driver. Larry looked in from his position and could see an open gun bag on the floorboard. It was, you know, those zip bags, you can put your pistol in. So he was like Malta, I think there’s a gun in the car.

“So we took precautions, we backed away and got everybody out of the car, and the right-rear passenger seat passenger was uncooperative. We kept telling him to keep his hands where we could see them. He kept trying to bring his hands down, we warned him several times. I’ve got it on video, but they don’t make VCRs anymore. It was a VCR tape, because we had VCRs in the cars. But inside his jacket pocket was a loaded .357, unholstered, with the hammer back. So he had it cocked, ready to go. So that guy probably had something planned. Why would you carry it like that? The front seat passenger also had a weapon but it was in his pocket.”

Both encounters took place in the 1990s.

“No regrets,” Malta said of the job, but now he has new anxieties to contend with. His son, also called David, joined the sheriff’s office last September.

“Now that he’s in law enforcement, I’m going to get what my wife has had for the past 28 years that we’ve been married,” Malta said, “her anxiety that she’s been going through with me, going to work and not knowing if I’d come home or not., So I was like, wait a minute, it’s my turn to worry about my son. And she just gets to continue the worries. But my son’s got a good head on his shoulders. I trust him. It’s funny, because he’s got a lot of people watching him now, he’s got a lot of aunts and uncles.”

Malta demurred on two questions: asked who he’ll be voting for in the sheriff’s race, he laughed and said, “I’ve got somebody in mind,” which seems to suggest that he will at least not be among the throng running for the post. As for the state of the agency now, he said, “I see it all with rose-colored glasses right now because I’m on my way out. I just want to make sure that I keep a positive attitude, so as I leave, I have some sort of a structured, healthy life. I don’t walk away better. I can’t. It’s not healthy for me.”

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17 Responses for “Deputy David Malta, Class of ’87, Is Latest Long-Timer to Retire from Sheriff’s Office”

  1. Mark Carman says:

    Dave,

    It’s been truly an honor and privilege to serve side by side with you for the last 25 years. You are a true leader and professional and will be sorely missed. Enjoy your retirement and the best of luck in the future wherever it takes you. You are one of the best and deserve nothing less.

    Your friend and partner,

    Mark Carman

  2. Steveo says:

    Great guy, hell of a cop! You’ve done your time, enjoy your retirement.

  3. Jim says:

    Congrats and good luck to a GREAT guy!!! WELL DESERVED Dave!!!

  4. Tired of it says:

    Dave Malta is a good man that will be missed serving the citizens of Flagler County. Enjoy retirement Dave. You deserve it!

  5. hawcreekgirl says:

    Another good one….gone! Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

  6. Heading North says:

    Congratulations David!! Enjoy the retirement you so deservedly earned!!
    You were an exemplary officer, and a good friend, and I’m proud to know you!!

    Your friend,
    “Mac”

  7. Steve Clair says:

    One of the last true hero’s, dedicated to his profession, and the service of those he served as both a firefighter and later, as a Law Enforcement Officer. A stellar career, maintaining his integrity, honor and duty even in the face of adversity, unpopular decisions, and times.

    Dave, you have touched many peoples lives throughout your career, whether it was a simple greeting on the street, or a “call for service”, people always walked away a better person, because of your eagerness and willingness to help.

    Countless new deputies learned , listened and emulated your role, as both a leader, mentor and a “Field Training Officer”, striving to achieve and be at least a small percentage of what you were and exhibited as a role model, dedicated and true to the profession……I know I sure did ! and it guided me throughout my service and shortened career with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office!

    Who would’ve thought, that in May of 1991, when I slid my brand new “Rookie Belt” across your detailed, armored all, tan bench seat, for the first day of the start of my wonderful career with FCSO , (causing irreparable black marks), that we would be where we are now in life? Celebrating your retirement and the turning of the page, in the newest chapter of your life!!!

    I’m proud of your accomplishments in life and your career, proud to call you my co-worker, friend and most of all my “Brother”!!!

    May God Bless you, yours, and keep all safe in your continued journey of life!!

    Stone Cold

  8. hawcreekgirl says:

    Steve Clair for Sheriff 2020!

  9. Caryn Prather says:

    Congratulations Dave so happy for you, Grady would have been so proud of your accomplishments and so happy for your retirement!! Caryn Prather

  10. Judy Delarosby says:

    Congratulations Dave, I couldn’t be more happy for you. Joe, Grady & Frankie are smiling down on you.

  11. confidential says:

    Is Mr. Malta running for sheriff also?
    If I would reside in Flagler County with a pay of over $71,000 a year at age 52 only, I would feel like a lottery winner…and Mr. Malta deserves it probably.
    But sometimes people seat in a cloud were the view is unlimited as well as ambition and maybe the blinding lights are just ding that …blinding…Maybe one more candisate for sheriff?
    Compare to all those mostly 12,000 Americans being laid off by Intel Corporation allover the USA joining the many others before them on the unemployment lines and maybe all here can grasp reality a bit better.
    Intel Lays Off 12,000 After Seeking Visas to Import 14,523 …
    http://www.breitbart.com/…/intel-lays-off-12k-looking...
    Breitbart News Network
    6 days ago – Technology giant Intel announced April 19 it will fire 12,000 skilled U.S.-based professionals — after already swelling its workforce with 14,523 …
    Maybe Mr. Malta and all of us should ask ourselves and start demanding to undo what INTEL was allowed.

  12. Just me says:

    @ confidential where do you get any idea he is running??? Also what does INTEL have to do with this story of a truly good and decent guy???

    confidential says:
    April 27, 2016 at 11:34 am
    Is Mr. Malta running for sheriff also?
    6 days ago – Technology giant Intel announced April 19 it will fire 12,000 skilled U.S.-based professionals — after already swelling its workforce with 14,523 …
    Maybe Mr. Malta and all of us should ask ourselves and start demanding to undo what INTEL was allowed.

  13. Roy Longo says:

    Dave, you make all us “old” guys proud to have known you, especially from the early years when Flagler County was on the cusp of the population explosion. I am lucky to have you and Toni as friends and will miss seeing you on the streets. Good luck.

  14. Elaine O. says:

    So happy to hear of your retirement. Thank you for your years of service and protection in our county, it has been greatly appreciated. Enjoy your time with Toni and your children…..especially your new grandchild (special memories can never be replaced).

  15. The Oracle says:

    GOD bless you David. Thank you for your service. Peace be with you.

  16. retired says:

    Congratulations Dave and Toni. I am proud to say you’re my friend. Enjoy your retirement! It’s great just being a husband, father, and grandfather. We will see each other again, and when we do, we’ll have a few beverages of your choice and speak of old times. God Bless you and your family.

  17. woody says:

    Great job Dave We had some fun at East coast Fitness before it bacame a dump.Enjoy your free time,Somehow you are responsible for the intel layoffs by retiring- some people need help.

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