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Manfre and Staly Bury Hatchet: “He Will Add to Progress I’ve Made and Make the Place Better”

| November 10, 2016

jim manfre rick staly

Rick Staly, left, and Jim Manfre, in a picture released by the sheriff’s office of the two men’s meeting Wednesday.

Jim Manfre and Rick Staly were once fellow-Rotarians , then colleagues as Staly became Manfre’s under-sheriff for two years, then political enemies as Staly declared his run for sheriff. Now that Staly is the sheriff-elect, they have a “professional relationship” again, in Staly’s words, restored during their first meeting in two years Wednesday as Manfre opened his agency to Staly to help him through the transition.

“I personally like Rick Staly, I think Rick as well,” Manfre said. “I mean, you can’t fake that. We were friends before, and like any friendship or relationship there’s ups and downs. If you value a relationship you work through them. Politics is a funhouse, it distorts all relationships including friendships, and once you step out of that distortion you can get back to the attributes you liked about that person.”

Manfre stressed the importance of putting the election aside and looking at ensuring stability. “Politics is politics,” he said. “Once it’s over the obligation of every office-holder is to make sure that there is an organized transition from one administration to the next. That’s part of our duties, so regardless of any feelings I had for Rick, we buried those, they’re past, we had a very cordial time and we picked up where he left off when he left. I look forward to having a very good relationship personally and professionally.”

Staly, for his part, said “we both acknowledged that the best thing for the community and the agency is to have a very professional transition, and I think we’re both committed to that. I was very pleased with our conversation, we talked candidly about what it’s like to be the sheriff and the pressures of being the sheriff when you’re sitting in that chair, and you know, he provided interesting insight.” Staly noted he will “always treat Jim Manfre and Don Fleming with respect as former sheriffs of Flagler County. They will always be invited to any agency program that we have like the law enforcement memorial day that we have.” But when asked whether he would seek counsel or insights from Manfre after the transition, Staly said he “will probably lean towards working and talking to currently sitting sheriffs.”

Manfre and Staly met for an hour Wednesday, and Manfre gave Staly a tour of the new Sheriff’s Operations Center, which Staly had never visited. Staly then went on to tour the new jail. It was during those tours that the consequence of the election sunk in.

“When it really set in to me that I am the sheriff-elect and that I’ll be the 17th sheriff in the history of Flagler County,” Staly said, “was when I was in his office that’ll be mine, and then as we walked through the building, saying hello to a few employee working. I think it’s the first time that I felt the weight of the sheriff’s office, because you’re responsible for the safety of the community, and the welfare of your employees. Then at the detention facility–you won’t have all of that but you have the security and safety of the inmates. So it kind of like all came together. It’s a huge responsibility, which I was certainly aware of, but you’re the top cop now, and there’s no one else to turn to except your colleagues that are other sheriffs.”

For small amounts of marijuana, a de-prioritization in the agency, and a focus on bigger crime.

Staly’s transition office was set up in the old operations building, adjacent to the jail. From there Staly is granted access to all the agency’s personnel and other records he may request. The condition was that he continue to respect the current chain of command until he is sworn in on Jan. 3. Manfre said the transition should not be difficult. “There are no time-bombs, everything that needed to be dealt with has been dealt with,” he said, even alluding to his own transition four years ago, carried out with Staly as his second in command, and for which Manfre was criticized, because it entailed an immediate and brutal round of firings, demotions and transfers that helped sour the ranks against him.

“It had to be done,” Manfre said. “Rick is aware that caused issues for him and I, and I think he’ll take that into account.” Manfre would not discuss any internal plans the two men may have talked about during their meeting, saying that’s up to Staly to deal with and discuss in his own time.

Staly said he will try to meet for 15 minutes with each employee–ranked sergeant and below, and their civilian equivalent–to get a sense of their perspective on the agency and their goals, which he says he intends to help them accomplish. Employees of higher ranks will all be required to essentially re-apply for their job, submitting to interviews and evaluations before Staly determines their status. “I have no intention of letting anybody go. There may be people who may have different responsibilities.” (An earlier version of this story had stated the evaluation process would determine who would stay and who would go, when it should have said it would merely determine certain employees’ future roles.) The fact that he knows most of the employees and the operations of the office should make the job easier, Staly said.

Crime-wise, he intends as sheriff to focus on quality of life issues, domestic violence and property crimes. The approach to property crimes “doesn’t seem to be working, it tends to be more reactionary than trying to either prevent or [find] strategic solutions,” he said.

There’ll also be a focus on the drug trade, but with a caveat as far as marijuana is concerned: For “small amounts of marijuana, the way I would describe it is a de-prioritization in the agency. There are more important criminals to go after.” It’ll be left up to the discretion of deputies to make arrests or issue notices to appear to people caught with small amounts of marijuana. That’s not much different than what’s in place now.

The passage of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment may complicate things in so far as the fraudulent use of medical cards or prescriptions, Staly said, but that’s yet to be seen: it’ll be up to the state legislature and regulators to define the rules of medical-pot use.

He will also be instituting new policing zones in the county, with three zones–beach-side, Palm Coast and the west side.

As for the coming presidency of Donald Trump, who’d claimed in his campaign to be more pro-law enforcement than President Obama, Staly said local changes will not be perceptible. “In the country I really don’t know,” Staly said. “I can tell you locally I don’t think it will have any significant impact on how we provide law enforcement services in Flagler County. We’re not going to be more militaristic or anything like that, and I think that’s how you’ll see it across the country. I do think he’ll be a more supportive president, and his attorney general will be more supportive of law enforcement, and not be quick to make statements before the facts are in.”

Regarding immigration policing and the deputizing of local agencies to carry out arrests of undocumented immigrants, Staly said “that’s really the responsibility of the federal government government. They need to hire enough INS agents or enforce the law they currently have.” The Immigration and Naturalization Service was the name of the federal agency in charge of immigration before it was recast as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “My agency will support federal agencies in our county if they ask for that but I don’t believe we have significant illegal immigration issue in Flagler County.”

Manfre concluded an interview today with what amounts to an endorsement of Staly’s coming administration: “I think he’ll do a good job,” Manfre said, “He’s a good person, and I think he will add to the progress I’ve made in the office and make the place better, which is what we all want.”

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5 Responses for “Manfre and Staly Bury Hatchet: “He Will Add to Progress I’ve Made and Make the Place Better””

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    I know they are trying to paint everything as all rosy and make nice. I don’t see the years of animosity and ethics complaints disappearing that quickly. Nice try though.

    If you work for FCSO and didn’t support Staly you better be looking for employment. You can best bet he will gut everything from Commander on down and put his people in place.

    I give it less than 90 days before we see Fleming/Manfre type behavior popping up and nothing will have changed.

  2. r&r says:

    The headline “To make things better”. Well Manfre they’re better already because you are gone. “You’re Fired”.

  3. Geezer says:

    A politician is like a heroin addict. He or she will do anything, to get that power fix.
    Once they’ve gotten their fix, all is well again. Suddenly their evil opponents are
    restored to the status of “good person.” Give ’em a hug! (with claws ready to deploy)

    Politicians are also analogous to septic systems. They’re full of s***.
    I wouldn’t turn my back on a single one for fear of a sharp object against my back.

  4. USA Lover says:

    Two peas in a pod. This is Flagler County’s loss.

  5. The Oracle says:

    Things are looking up. A true law enforcement professional at the helm, is a good deal for everyone. Let’s hope for a smooth transition, and a bright future. May God continue to bless the Flagler County Sheriff!s Department.

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