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Flagler Sheriff’s Corporal Counseled Over Racial Slur, Latest Revelation Since November

| April 9, 2018

The incident is alleged to have taken place around 4 a.m. on Jan. 27 in the parking lot of the county courthouse. (© FlaglerLive)

The incident is alleged to have taken place around 4 a.m. on Jan. 27 in the parking lot of the county courthouse. (© FlaglerLive)

James Miley, a Flagler County Sheriff’s corporal, was counseled verbally in February after a deputy reported that Miley had used a racial slur while referring to a Latino subordinate, then shrugged off the insult when another deputy called him on it.


According to a Feb. 1 memo filed by deputy Diego Gonzalez, Miley had sent a message to several deputies to meet him in the parking lot of the county courthouse early the morning of Jan. 26. He was distributing farewell cards to the members of a squad who were being transferred to other duties.

“While walking up to the trunk of a patrol car to sign the cards,” Goznalez wrote, “I heard Corporal Miley refer to Dep. Spinelli as ‘Spic-Enelli.’ Being Hispanic and the word being offensive to me I cringed and stated ‘Wow that’s offensive.’ Corporal Miley looked at me and stated ‘tough shit, get over it.’ I did not say another word and went on signing the cards.”

Michael Spinelli is a new recruit to the agency, hired last September. Gonzalez states that to his knowledge at least three deputies other than Spinelli were present, and possibly others. None spoke up.

The comment does not appear to have been meant with any malice so much as an ill-advised joke, a sheriff’s official familiar with the incident said, though to individuals on the receiving end of slurs statements of the sort are no less racist or offensive for being meant as anything else. The incident is the latest revelation of verbal misconduct involving racial slurs since November. A deputy formerly assigned to the courthouse was disciplined and transferred to road patrol after an inquiry found him to have violated agency policy on conduct, and the agency is continuing a fuller internal investigation into courthouse bailiffs that includes further allegations of racially charged language.

“Due to my ethnic background and frequently being utilized for Spanish translation calls,” said Gonzalez, a deputy at the agency since 2015, “I believe that it should be known that i am Hispanic. Corporal Miley being my direct line supervisor, I feel that it is unprofessional to make a statement like that. I also feel that you should not refer to another Deputy that way in front of your subordinates. Lastly the response of ‘tough shit, get over it’ is unacceptable for someone in a supervisory position.”

Gonzalez submitted his memo to Detective Nicole Thomas, who is in charge of professional standards. On Feb. 7, Sgt. Jon Dopp and Cmdr. Michael Fink met with Miley in a formal counseling session, which is not considered a disciplinary step, but is just shy of the first such step on the disciplinary ladder at the agency.

“It was expressed to him that these actions and comments will not be condoned by any member of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office,” Fink wrote, referring to Miley. “Furthermore when the deputy questioned the comment and found it to be offensive that action should have been immediately corrected by Corporal Miley.

“It was explained in detail to Corporal Miley that being a supervisor in this agency you are held to a higher standard and that he needs to be a role model for the generation of deputies coming into this profession. “

Miley “took full responsibility for his comments,” the memo states, understood that the comments were “inappropriate and unprofessional” and assured his supervisors that the behavior would not be repeated.

Miley, at the agency since 2011, last made news in 2015 when he helped rescue and safeguard a toddler who’d wandered across Belle Terre Parkway, chasing after her dog. He was among deputies awarded a unit citation for the unit’s handling of a suicide call in February 2017.

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34 Responses for “Flagler Sheriff’s Corporal Counseled Over Racial Slur, Latest Revelation Since November”

  1. Nobody says:

    Wow, such a slap on the wrist for this sort of behavior?!? He should have been demoted!!

  2. The Truth says:

    And some people wonder why trust in those who are sworn to ‘protect’ the people is at an all time low?

  3. r&r says:

    Big deal……………………..

  4. Anonymous says:

    They know they are held to a higher standard. They are required to read the code of conduct when they are first hired. They just think it doesnt apply to them. Its judt begining to be enforced. You have deputies in this agency who dont care and think they can do and say anything they want. Time to clean house, again Sheriff. Maybe you should of kept the staff you had prior to Manfre. Those Lieutenants were respect by all and new how to handle the deputies they supervised.

  5. Bc. says:

    Wow a bunch of cry babies what is the big deal.

  6. KathieLee4 says:

    They say things like that all the time and now feelings get hurt.. Please .This isn’t the first time something has been said and nothing done about it . Remember Officer Growth with the Trevon Martin , he kept his job and the officer he sent it to got fired… Guys keep your comments to yourself…

  7. MRC says:

    And this guy is in a supervisory position??? The police department is held to a high standard, and in particular a person in a supervisory position who sets an example for acceptable behavior in the workplace. I am astonished at his blatant use of a racial slur in front of an employee who is of Hispanic heritage. His whole attitude was unacceptable and he should have been made to apologize to his subordinates for his behavior . I am concerned about the example he was set. This is an example of a hostile work environment. I believe that police officers in particular need to have nothing distracting them from their duty and they need to know that they can depend on each other to back them up whenever the occasion arises. How can employees of what is considered a “minority” group, such as the employees maligned in this circumstance. I have to assume that he has displayed this type of behavior before and it was just not reported to his supervisors and he was only called on the carpet because the brave employee reported the incident and he got caught. This guy should have been formally disciplined and put on probation probation with performance reviews occurring on a regular basis. I am also concerned about retaliation toward the gentleman who reported the incident. We all know of incidents about the “blue” code and snitching on one another. Honestly Sheriff Staly should have stepped up made it clear to the entire force that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, period. This workplace behavior plus the incidents by bailiffs compromises the integrity of the Sheriff’s department. Sheriff Staly needs to start cleaning up the department and get rid of the bad seeds. Some of you might not think that this is any big deal. I have news for you. This type of behavior is cosidered UNACCEPTABLE in our workplaces and in society as a whole and should not be tolerated in any setting. Racism is not acceptable in our culturally diverse country and those who engage in this sort of behavior need to learn about the history of our country and the culturally diverse population who made our country great.

  8. Mark says:

    Demoted? How about fired. You want someone serving and protecting that can’t control himself? Construction sounds like a good line of work for him.

  9. Dave says:

    Wow so we are suppose to trust an officer that has a mindset like this? How can this guy stay in a position with law enforcement? Good job for the officer who called him out and for all the good cops doing the right thing and holding other officers to a high standard. Keep cleaning up the department!

  10. Justin says:

    Ridiculous if you ask me, people get butt hurt over everything nowadays, be being Italian we joke about eating whoppers

  11. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ r&r

    You would find it a big deal if someone made racial slurs against your ethnic background. I guess it’s easy to not be offended if it happens to somebody else.

    So here we have another case of disciplinary issues in the Sheriff’s Office. And yet another supervisor being disciplined (lightly I might add). I guess the Sheriff is OK with hiring and promoting employees with racial issues. By his inaction’s and light discipline he really is condoning it. Just not outright saying it.

    When you choose a career in Law Enforcement you take an oath. That holds you to higher standards than your average citizen. You also agree to a code of conduct. When you can no longer hold yourself to those standards and violate that oath then you aren’t fit to be a Law Enforcement Officer. Part of the job requires ethics and being racist is not ethical.

    So let’s all sit back and see if Staly decides to address this publicly announced issue. I’m still waiting on his press conference addressing court house issues and deputies showing up drunk at work. I’m also waiting on him to address the severe lack of leadership he has in his agency. Time to stop playing games and be a real Sheriff.

    You need to spend more time on the road and in other positions evaluating not just Deputies but Supervisors as well.

  12. Really says:

    Need thick skin to navigate the 21st Century just sayin. For instance i personally have been called many things by fellow employees. Dont matter to me no how anyway move on next

  13. Concerned Res says:

    Deputy Diego should be proud for standing up to the comment. Miley should be demoted. The deputies that stood by and said nothing are afraid of speakers by up. They do not tell on each other

  14. flagler1 says:

    waste of time

  15. Dave says:

    I hope their was counseling for the deputies who stayed silent, in today’s climate being complacent is just as bad.

  16. Former Flagler Law says:

    Funny, Commander Fink says that in response to those actions…

  17. gmath55 says:

    Rappers use the “N” word a lot. How many musicians were offended? How many rappers were demoted? How many rappers were fired?

    Back in the day there were a lot of Polish jokes going around. I happen to be Polish. I wasn’t offended, we all laughed, and I even had a few Polish jokes.

    Today some people get all bent out of shape over some of the most ludicrous stuff I have ever heard. Some people get so offended that they take it to court over ridiculous stuff.

    That’s the world we live in today. SAD!

  18. Jenn says:

    It is a big deal if you’re African-American how would you like being called a Niger you wouldn’t and that is a fact. To stop sticking up for those Corporal who was in the wrong and who should be demoted apparently he does not know how to deal with people maybe this is the wrong career for him.

  19. Jason B says:

    No big surprise. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Thee are two kinds of cops; the bad ones and the ones that look the other way, there are no good cops.

  20. smarterthanmost says:

    “Miley “took full responsibility for his comments,” the memo states, understood that the comments were “inappropriate and unprofessional” and assured his supervisors that the behavior would not be repeated.”

    Demoted, fired, the insanity in Flagler County continues. “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…”. I dare say, everyone of you have done something that someone else would find objectionable, no one is perfect.

  21. Really says:

    Wow… All these issues with the deputies. So where is the justice? Just a few week ago there was an article that it was he said she said about racial slurs and there were a few deputies that were demoted and to this one who literally admitted what he said was just a slap in the hand? I think it should be fair across the line another deputy found it offensive. Would it be fair to demote this “Corporal” I’m all fairness to the other deputies as well?

  22. FUGGETABOUTIT says:

    Jeeez, It’s a mean old world…. Get over it Snowflakes

  23. r&r says:

    Concerned..

    There are bigger issues and problems here and around the world to take this so called slur and make it out to be so serious. It still get’s my BIG DEAL of the day.

  24. Trailer Bob says:

    I don’t know what context the comment was in, as I was not there and for all I know, these two may joke about the name regularly. Either way, I guess if I was called “frog” Fortier it would not get any attention. Would I say anything like that in public…no. But I do not know the relationship of the two.

  25. knightwatch says:

    I see some of the ardent conservatives here see no problem with ethnic slurs. They represent the underside of a progressive society. They are hateful and divisive. They are the problem.

  26. HonkeyDude says:

    Town Criers…. Please return to your homes. Step away from your electronic devices (put away your torches and pitchforks).
    Everyday you meet here in the center of town, hoping to burn someone on the stake. Stop letting your fears control you

  27. Dave says:

    Friends don’t call their friends racial slurs out of respect for ones culture and background. Even if they laugh they are just being nice. Racists jokes and mindsets have no place in Flagler County

  28. Anonymous says:

    Those deputies that didn’t speak up are the kind that will swear to any lie to keep their ass out of hot water. Sheriff Staly needs to work on the image of his agency instead of his image in the media and plastering his name and face all over the place.

  29. hawkeye says:

    I work with a fellow who is black, he makes more racial jokes than any one I have ever met, we use humor to break down prejudice , maybe that’s what these guys were doing as well

  30. ANONYMOUS says:

    Sounds like BULLSHIT to me. All of you are commenting and jumping to conclusions without being there. Sounds like the deputy is reaching desperately for being offended. I bet you he’s offended someone before. Come on people.

  31. Sherry says:

    OFFENSIVE. . . you bet ya! That kind of attitude and communication is completely “unprofessional” and “unacceptable”!!!

    Those “usual suspects” that often defend such behavior and attitude by using “whataboutisms” or invoking the lame excuse that “IT has happen before” (when we all should know that 2 wrongs still don’t make a right). . . are just as OFFENSIVE! Those who pathetically condone such racists slurs are certainly demonstrating examples of the degradation of 35% of our civilization.

    Looking forward to the next elections, and to the turn of events from our younger generations!

  32. Fernando Melendez says:

    As a Latino myself and a new Flagler County resident, I will tell you that it is a form of unlawful racial discrimination. Whether the racial slurs are being directed at you or simply used around you, it can create a hostile work environment nevertheless, and especially in the position like there’s, one of law enforcement. So having said that, even if someone of the same race uses racial slurs jokingly, and in addition to racial slurs, racial jokes or verbalizing racial stereotyping can all create such an environment. In order for conduct to create a hostile work environment, it must be either severe or pervasive, meaning just one incident is often not enough. I assume that’s why the slap on the wrist. I have met with Sheriff Rick Staly and I can assure you, that if it was more than just roughhousing and joking around he would have definitely done much more, maybe even going for termination, but as I see it that was probably an apology behind the scenes.

  33. Not so much says:

    For those who have never been in Military or Law Enforcement, we understand each other. The brotherhood is much deeper than this garbage, Latinos are Spics, whites are crackers or honkies, and so on. Only this new breed takes offense as no offense is intended.

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