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AR-15s in Flagler Schools, Traffic Cops in Mustangs, New Marine Unit: Sheriff Staly’s State of Policing

| April 19, 2018

Some 75 people turned up at the Hilton garden Inn in Palm Coast Thursday afternoon to hear Sheriff Rick Staly's state of policing in Flagler in the first quarter of 2018. (© FlaglerLive)

Some 75 people turned up at the Hilton garden Inn in Palm Coast Thursday afternoon to hear Sheriff Rick Staly’s state of policing in Flagler in the first quarter of 2018. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Rick Staly spoke of a long list of developments as he summed up his agency’s work over the past year to some 75 people assembled for a policing community update at the Hilton garden Inn this afternoon.

Here’s a sample: Other than rape and domestic violence, violent crime is down 18 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Burglaries and stolen vehicles are down. Car break-in’s are up, but as always, most of those involve owners leaving their vehicles unlocked. School resource deputies will now have their AR-15s on campus, not in their patrol cars—locked behind biometric safes, but more easily accessible during an emergency.

Ankle bracelets are on their way for individuals serving injunctions, enabling alerts to victims when the individuals are too close. Cops’ response time in Palm Coast is down below four minutes, from closer to 5, even though calls for service are up 12 percent in the first quarter compared with last year, to 31,531 calls. But there are also 15 additional deputies on the streets, five in Palm Coast, 10 in the county. Inmate health care has been privatized at the jail. White Mustangs—patrol cars, not horses—will soon appear on Palm Coast streets for traffic enforcement. There’s a larger and soon-to-be more active marine unit.

The presentation—“Addressing Crime Together”—included a chapter by Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster and was designed to provide a more transparent perspective on policing, a perspective made easier to present given the generally favorable crime numbers, the series of initiatives the sheriff has launched since his election, and the resulting favorability he’s fostered across the county: the turnout he drew today and the applause he garnered along the way (particularly for his on-camera appearance in a folksy video about his “Green Roof Inn” jail signs) underscored that popularity. The acclaim is unusual for any locally elected official. It’s not been contrived so much as cultivated through a re-energized agency, that ambitious list of new programs or directions, and a command staff that appears in sync with the sheriff’s style of leadership from the trenches.

“We want to engage the community. We’re not going to hide crime from you,” Staly said. “I believe that an informed community helps us all be safe and know what to look for and how to prevent crime.”

The most startling revelation was about the AR-15s, the assault-type rifles that Staly says now every deputy carries, and that will be on school campuses very soon, not in patrol cars anymore. In other words, each school resource deputy assigned to a school will have his or her own rifle inside the school in a biometrically-accessible safe that only the deputy can access with fingerprints. The weapons will be taken out of the schools at the end of every shift and brought back in at the beginning of each shift, making for arresting sights to come as deputies take their weapons to and from their vehicles. Former Superintendent Jacob Oliva had been opposed to the weapons’ presence on campus. Superintendent Jim Tager is not.

The presentation, which was followed by a question-and-answer period, was moderated by Joe Saviak, an assistant professor of public management at Flagler College and the assistant director of its Public Administration program. Saviak, who volunteered (and has known Staly for three decades), compared the 20th century model of government services to a vending machine: you pay, you get. That model is over, Saviak said. Today, it’s about a “partnership model” that seeks to better inform end engage residents. The Sheriff’s presentation was that idea “in action,” he said.

And so began Staly’s talk through 34 slides, almost every one of them summarizing numbers, programs and developments that have highlighted his tenure, starting with what residents generally are most interested in: crime stats. The numbers seemed contradictory: arrests and bookings at the jail are way up, with an average jail population of over 200, up from the 130s when he took over.

“Now let me tell you what that tells me,” Saly said. “I look at self-initiated activity to see if we have a team that’s engaged and working. So when I see traffic stops up, it doesn’t matter to me if they write tickets, but that’s a self-initiated activity. If I see arrests up, in many cases that’s a self-initiated activity. So an agency is engaged and working when you see the self-initiated activity increasing, and that’s what we see here.”

The risk in that is deputies making “self-initiated activity” whether there’s probable cause of a crime or not. But if that were the case, the arrests that turn into charges filed by the State Attorney’s Office—which acts as a check on policing zeal, a form of quality control, by either ratifying or throwing out charges filed by the sheriff—would reflect it in lower filings. In fact, filings by the State Attorney are up.

The agency filed 120 more cases with the State Attorney’s Office in early 2018 than it did in a comparable period in 2017. “But the real important statistic with that is that the State Attorney’s Office filed 25 percent more criminal cases than they did the year before,” Staly said, “which means that the investigations are better, the quality of the cases are better, and they’re willing to file those cases.”

The quality of policing would also be reflected in the agency’s clearance rate—that is, the proportion of crimes it actually solves. The rate for 2018’s first quarter is nearly 28 percent, up from 23.5 percent in the same period last year (which also happened to be the statewide rate): the agency’s detectives have been a sharp, if hidden lot.

Staly spoke about the “redistricting” of the county into three districts—one district covering the beach area, one covering Palm Coast, one covering the west side, giving deputies within each district a better chance to develop affinities for their districts. He spoke of the domestic violence task force he initiated and that drew much attention last year (though curiously today’s presentation lacked numbers on domestic violence crimes, which Staly has said previously has increased), of traffic enforcement ( “It doesn’t matter to me if we don’t write the ticket if we can get the compliance”) and three developments ahead: the white Mustang patrol cars that will enforce traffic laws in Palm Coast (the cars have no lights on their roofs but do “light up” for traffic stops, and have no markings on the front hood but just on the sides); the ankle monitors that will add a level of security for victims and of alerts for deputies in cases involving injunctions; and a Problem Area Crime Enforcement Team that will focus on targeted problems such as car burglaries, drug raids and gangs.

Foster, the Bunnell police chief, spoke briefly about developments in his nine-officer department (he’d be the 10th), its efforts to diversify (“If you have any good African American candidates we’d love to see them”) and its engagement with the community (Foster described himself sitting down with known drug dealers to chat and develop relationships while visiting neighborhoods). But when he’d asked if anyone in the audience was from Bunnell, only one hand went up–that of Bunnell City Manager Dan Davis.

The questions from the audience were all directed at Staly and focused on homeless issues, noise, domestic violence, and being able to report issues anonymously.

The slide presentation in full is below.

Sheriff Rick Staly’s and Bunnell Chief Tom Foster’s State of Policing

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22 Responses for “AR-15s in Flagler Schools, Traffic Cops in Mustangs, New Marine Unit: Sheriff Staly’s State of Policing”

  1. Mr. Sweetchuck says:

    Not a cop worshiper but at least Staly is putting his money were his mouth is. I appreciate what he’s doing I just hope some of the internal bad apples or potential ones are weeded out because bully’s with ego’s can erase all the good he’s done with one deliberate act!

  2. Shark says:

    This clown doesn’t care how he pisses our taxpayer money away !!!!

  3. Figures says:

    no problem with the rifle inside issue problem would be where their offices are within the campus ? They need / should be somewhere with little foot print on the design of the school and not in a high traffic area !! Such as admin office or student area and principal / deans office … but love the idea …

  4. Flatsflyer says:

    I’m very happy that we may see some enforcement on the canals by the new Marine Unit. I have lived off the northern most canal and the main canal. The main canal is a mess because of the inconsiderate people who live further west and don’t want to take 30 minutes to reach ICW., . Sea walls are being destroyed, no wake zones are ignored, boats at docks are being damaged by excessive speed and wave actions. Let’s see some real enforcement of the 5 mph limit in all canals. Maybe hitting people in their pocket books will educate people who just don’t seem to care.

  5. Dave says:

    Here we are trying to disarm the police in this country , and they are giving them ar15’s in schools, so wierd.

  6. Joe Slick says:

    Hot Air to get elected again and again

  7. Fernando Melendez says:

    The real numbers are in the statistics, compared to Jacksonville and Daytona, and many other cities south of Palm Coast, our crime situation here is moderate. These statistics are of public records and they’re there for all to see. The Sheriff’s Department’s ongoing efforts in pinpointing and engageing crime in the difficult areas where needed has to be applauded. My assessment of our policing department and Mr Rick Staley is an A plus. I do see disagreement with some who say otherwise, but the truth is that facts don’t lie, and the facts speaks for themselves.

  8. capt says:

    Thank you Sheriff I don’t see an issues with the AR’s in police hands at schools. I guess some on here feel that an unarmed officer is the best thing for safety. And I agree more enforcement along the cancels and the roads towards the beaches is needed. Just to many careless ,uncaring people speeding and throwing their trash everywhere not to mention trespassing through private yards.

  9. BlueJammer says:

    Sheriff Staly is the best ever! Thank you, FCSO for keeping us safe!

  10. John F. Pollinger says:

    From my perspective as a former law enforcement executive, Sheriff Staly is not simply acting as an elected official holding office, but as a law enforcement officer who brings his decades of experience to the table. He continues to demonstrate with his actions, ideas, and programs, what he promised at the outset of his campaign to become the Flagler County Sheriff.

  11. Chris A Pickett says:

    A lot of people complain about the AR issue, I guess they don’t want actual safety, but to further an Agenda. That Agenda is never going to happen! Be happy Flagler County has a high quality Sheriff, that has the intestinal fortitude to do what is necessary while not infringing on law abiding citizens rights. Those are the people we need to do the job, the ones brave enough to do what needs to be done, without worrying about the optics as viewed by ONLY some people, NOT the Majority. Thank You FCSO and Sheriff Rick Staly.

  12. William Moya says:

    The credibility complex so prevalent in our foreign policy has now creep into our domestic policy and politics. If you remember the day after the policy shooting in Ferguson, the police choose to double down and inflame the situation by bringing out assault rifles and armored vehicles. Now that approach is going to be used in schools.
    Sheriff Staly is very clever and successful politician, who shows a very soft style in his public relation campaign, as we can see in some of the commenters in these pages, but that nevertheless uses tactics are a reminiscent of those who wore brown shirts in the past.

  13. Jack Howell says:

    My background and many years experience in law enforcement wholeheartedly concurs with the actions and improvements that Sheriff Staly is putting into place for the benefit of Flagler County citizens. He is doing the right thing at the right time. Rick, you are “spot on” the numbers with your actions. Unfortunate, the naysayers have no clue. Keep it up, steady as she goes!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Jack Howell—the naysayers do have a clue…..this sheriff is out of control and the actions of his agency with all the negative news is proof as well is the agency having Mustangs! This is absurd. This is a man who has no regard for our hard earned tax dollars. The handful of people in this room doesn’t amount to squat when then are over 100,000 people in this county–part of them are law enforcement themselves. This man is all about standing on a soap box and is a legend in his own mind. We don’t need Mustangs in Flagler County, we don’t need police cars wrapped with TAXI/Sheriff wraps at hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This Sheriff plastering his face on the front page of every media outlet, radio and TV does nothing to prevent or catch crime. This is all a huge waste of money! We never see officers walking the beat and mingling with the neighbors and finding out what is going on and where–they all sit and wait for someone to tell them where to go and what to do. Far too often we see police cars parked in the bushes–doing what???? This Sheriff needs to focus on running the agency and without the agency behind him he is NOTHING!

  15. JAY KOSACK says:

    Sheriff Staly is reaching out to the community and businesses in a way that should have been done a long time ago. Dealing with the community, on a daily basis, is what the community wants and needs, whether you believe it or not. There is no one, absolutely no one, who has more information and knowledge of their neighborhood then the citizens who live and work in them. Sheriff Staly and all the deputes under his command are doing what they can do with the knowledge of their areas that they have. Civilians can greatly assist, anonymously, calling the sheriffs office or going to headquarters directly. Guaranteed, the knowledge and information you have would be grealtly appreciated. Negativity and complainers solve nothing! Just give it a try! When I served in a, Street Enforcement Narcotics Unit, in the NYPD working in Harlem, the information my entire unit received from the community was extremely valuable. The Community Council meetings verified this repeatedly. Working with your police department and deputies will bring results. It sure beats complaining and you’ll be amazed at what can be accomplished. It’s up to you. It’s your neighborhood and most oall your city.

  16. Concerned Citizen says:

    All great ideas I suppose but he has other issues to worry about first. He’s had 3 or 4 major issues in his department in the last 4 months and has yest to address those. From deputies showing up drunk at work to reassigning racist deputies. And supervisors that obviously can’t supervise. He needs to clean house and in a major way. He continues to publicly ignore these issues which says to me he condones this type of behavior and by ignoring it hopes it goes away. Do we really need a media hungry Sheriff and someone who is more interested in corny signage and playing Wyatt Earp with wax bullets? Or do we want someone who is going to get out there and lead by example and straighten out his people?

  17. WWG1WGA says:

    Thank you sheriff!! I think this is a wonderful idea to keep our children safe. Having AR’s easily available… massive deterrent I’d say.

  18. A Parent says:

    I am not happy to hear that AR15 will be in our schools. I kept my child home on Friday because of the announcement of a supposed threat on 4/20 and additional officers on campus. This rush to bring guns on campuses poses additional threats to our school staff and students. Our children are afraid when announcements and drills occur. These are things adults should not normalize in our society. I wasn’t afraid to go to school in SOFL in the 70’s and 80’s, we had resource officers on campus who had handguns. AR15s are military weapons and IMO excessive use of force. Now, this general announcement states that AR15s will be brought back and forth to and from campus, what prevents someone from trying to steal these weapons to harm others? All of this is uncomfortable and I think we may see more parents choosing to homeschool or have their children attend virtual school if society cannot resolve the school violence issues.

  19. mark101 says:

    Well for some of these posters, sorry but the current school goings on is nothing like it was back then. Hey times change, government changes stupid people and hate groups emerge that feel the need to do harm. My high school years were in the 1960’s, its was mostly all white few blacks in our school we still pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, we still had school prayer, you got your butt spanked by the principle if you miss behaved in school, then you got your butt spanked again when you got home. All of this has changed society changed and that is whats wrong in our schools and communities. People in Ocala thought a school shooting would not happen in their town, well it did last week, and the police are staffing all schools. So whatever our law enforcement feels is necessary to protect our children, so be it. . If this shooting would have happened in Flagler County the call for armed police at our schools would be running through the communities and in the papers. You can’t have it your way and set back on your thumbs waiting for something to happen. Time to be proactive and protect the children today and just maybe we in this county will not have to deal with such a horrible occurrence in our schools. This is NOT the 1950-1960’s when we were in school. Society has changed.

  20. hawkeye says:

    Agree with everything Mark 101 said , I am about 5 years younger than him ,however ,grew up the same way.There was a much politer society in those days.

  21. Exit 82 says:

    I was shocked when the new sheriff not only lived up to his campaign promises but far exceeded them. What would happen if this became the new norm? I think the the ankle monitor will keep victims safer and give them some piece of mind. Keep our children safe and our streets clean and the rest will follow.

  22. Bp52 says:

    I definitely agree with everything Mark 101 has stated. Also think it’s time to stop promoting within just
    because an officer has years or rank on the job. Redistricing an officer because of bad behavior is
    totally unacceptable. Clean house and hire some years proven experienced officers. Maybe with diverse
    Experience. It sure would help put Flagler County! Parents and grandparents need to realize these threats
    to our children are real. Whatever’s it takes to keep them safe I’am for.

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