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Sheriff Meets With FPC and Matanzas Students On Timely Issues But Again Gives Neither Public Nor Press Notice

| December 1, 2016

One common ground

Flagler Palm Coast High School Principal Dusty Sims speaks to the One Common Ground meeting at FPC today, led by Sheriff Jim Manfre and also attended by Matanzas High School students and selected community members. The image was provided by the Sheriff’s Office.

Editor’s note: We are publishing below a release issued by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office this afternoon about a meeting that took place between the sheriff and students at Flagler Palm Coast High School, apparently this afternoon. It presented a compelling opportunity for students to speak to their sheriff of their concerns in light of high-profile tensions nationally and to a lesser extent locally regarding relations between law enforcement and young people.


Indefensibly, the meeting was not noticed to the public nor to the local press. It therefore could not be independently and properly reported, leaving us with a few paragraphs from the sheriff’s public relations office rather than a more appropriately and comprehensively reported account.

Sheriff Jim Manfre says he’s held six such meetings, dubbed “One Common Ground,” since 2015, involving various segments of the community. He’s referred to them extensively as proof of his engagement, and did so repeatedly during his re-election campaign. His office never issued public notices about any of them, nor invited the press. 

FlaglerLive asked on previous occasions to be provided notices of the meetings so they could be announced ahead of time and appropriately reported. We were told we would be given notice. Disappointingly, the sheriff’s office has consistently neglected to do so, making “One Common Ground” in many respect an unnecessarily ironic misnomer.

We wrote the sheriff of our disappointment today and again said local media should have been informed. He wrote back: “I agree. The media should have been notified with the approval of the school district. I told Jim Troiano that as well. He agreed and apologized. The topics discussed were timely and were worthy of the public’s being informed. I am sorry this occurred. We have created an important avenue of communication with the school district, it’s students,Law enforcement and the faith community. I believe the community would be proud of the level and frankness of the discourse at these meetings. I hope there is a future for these conversations. They are imperative given the present state of community and national agitation and anxiety over race relations and other ethnic, gender and sexual orientation issues.”

–P.T.

 

Students from Flagler Palm Coast (FPC) and Matanzas high schools joined Sheriff Jim Manfre, area pastors and school officials today for the sixth “One Common Ground” meeting – a group designed to encourage open communication and respect to help prevent violence locally.

Leaders at today’s meeting, including Sheriff Manfre and Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Director Jim Troiano, said it’s vital to talk honestly about what’s going on, even with painful subjects like the violence experienced in Orlando and nationally last summer, and how to increase respect at school and between law enforcement and the community. FPC Principal Dusty Sims opened the discussion by saying he began the school year feeling anxious following the summer’s racial unrest and tensions throughout the country. One student said he too felt uneasy as confrontations exploded in communities and he feared it might happen here in Flagler County. That’s exactly why the One Common Ground concept began Aug. 11, 2015, with its first meeting at First Baptist Church in Bunnell.

Sheriff Manfre brought together area clergy, schools and law enforcement to lay a foundation of open communication, cooperation, understanding and prevention before a local incident could happen. Since then, students and school administrators, pastors and the FCSO have met regularly as One Common Ground.

Today’s meeting took place at FPC’s bistro where culinary students served the participants breakfast. During the discussion, Sheriff Manfre emphasized community-oriented policing and the need to build relationships between law enforcement officers and residents to foster mutual respect. The FCSO spends a lot of time communicating with people who experience marital situations, mental health issues or family crises, he said. “We may be dealing with people who are suicidal or people who are at their worst. We are customer service professionals,” Manfre said, adding, “We can’t help the community without support at every level.”

Students at the meeting were especially urged to express themselves because they are future leaders. One student, Andrew Wills of Matanzas High School, said he talks to a lot of students, including how they feel about law enforcement. “It’s respect-driven and about how people treat each other,” he said.

The word “respect” was a common theme throughout today’s discussion. Principal Sims said he is passionate about young people and said they’re “just seeking respect.” Sims praised the current generation of students, saying they display perseverance and resilience – not giving up, no matter what. The One Common Ground group also must “be resilient, never giving up,” he said.

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9 Responses for “Sheriff Meets With FPC and Matanzas Students On Timely Issues But Again Gives Neither Public Nor Press Notice”

  1. starryidgirl07 says:

    America is so tired of being lied to and deceived – that’s why we elected a new sheriff and new president!

  2. No1 says:

    Why is it these two speaking where are the everyday deputies …..political to me ….where are the community outreach deputies ? The workers

  3. Shell says:

    The news media have the right and self-appointed duty to find out what’s going on and report it. You DO NOT have the right to be told what’s going on so you can report it.

  4. footballen says:

    If all sides get to TRULY understand the issues of all other sides this could be an incredible initiative.

  5. Denali says:

    Not sure about Florida law but in other states where I have worked, the Sheriff does not fall under any of the so called “sunshine” or open meetings laws. Those restrictions fall on the executive offices and others such as planning and zoning – anywhere public policy may be decided. This was an informal, informative setting in order to build a common ground between different groups in our community. Cheers to the Sheriff for starting this initiative, hopefully it will continue after he leaves office.

  6. Blue Shirt says:

    I happen to be in this picture above. I’ve attended the meetings two years in a row now. It is actually a very productive meeting in which the head individuals of the FCSO and the sheriff look to a group of students in high school and ask them, “where are we going wrong” and “where can we improve”. Who better to look to in Flagler county than the youth whom are involved with the trouble or know who is. Young residents in Flagler do things that are illegal under the court of law in order to have fun in a place that is not known as “the funnest place in FL” or are being stupid and slip up. They looked to the youth to clarify where relations could improve amongst officers and the community, as well as the young “trouble makers” as the elderly community members labels Flagler teenagers as. We discussed many hot topics including generational gaps amongst the community as well as racial gaps in the community. Topics such as respect and trust came up and were key proponents to a meeting where opinions were desired by the diverse group of officers, clergy members, and students from both schools. Many officers in Flagler are respectful and trusted. Many officers, are individuals teens look to not as a threat or someone who is out to get them, rather a cool guy or cool lady. Granted there are numerous officers in Flagler county that each resident sees as a threat, and an untrustworthy person who’s out to get them, not all are. Many officers risk their life and sanity, for the smiling faces of kids, teens, parents, and the elderly of Flagler county everyday. The meeting was a very respectful and productive meeting, despite much skepticism that may arise from the “Palm Coast” mentality many community members may have. We live in a place where many feel lucky to have grown up or live. We are the 386. And we are lucky the sheriff cares what people think.

  7. wishful thinking says:

    All the more reason to vote make Flagler County ‘Home Rule’ and do away with elected sheriffs and hire qualified police chiefs who know what the hell their job is all about..

  8. footballen says:

    Sheriff is sheriff no matter what rule you make. He is elected and he/she is the top or chief law enforcement officer in every Florida county, that is state law I do believe. How about this, you stop trying to take away our right to vote for our leaders and instead try and educate yourself and others on who to vote for.

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