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Sheriff Says Conversation With Flagler Beach Manager on Key Police Changes “Never Happened”

| June 27, 2013

Sheriff Jim Manfre, left, and Bruce Campbell are at odds over a conversation that may or may not have taken place about proposed police department changes in Flagler Beach. The conversation that Campbell says did take place played a role in giving the proposal added credibility. Manfre says the conversation never happened. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Jim Manfre, left, and Bruce Campbell are at odds over a conversation that may or may not have taken place about proposed police department changes in Flagler Beach. The conversation that Campbell says did take place played a role in giving the proposal added credibility. Manfre says the conversation never happened. (© FlaglerLive)

At a daylong budget workshop earlier this month, Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell proposed eliminating the positions of police and fire chiefs and replacing them with captains.

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As Campbell explained his rationale, he cited Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez and Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre as authorities that had “no problem” with his approach. Campbell cited Martinez on two occasions, and Manfre on one, saying he’d had two conversations with Martinez about the changes, and one with Manfre.

“I leaned on Armando Martinez quite a bit he being an ex-police chief, when we started thinking about this,” Campbell said, “I did talk to Sheriff Manfre about it as well, and he didn’t have any heartburn over it as well as our attorney.”

Both Martinez and Manfre have since disputed the way Campbell conveyed the issue to his city commissioners.

The disagreement is significant not just because two of the county’s top officials are disputing each other’s veracity—or, at least, each other’s memories—but because a significant change in the way Flagler Beach runs its police and fire departments hinges in part on the credibility of that change. Campbell sought to build some of that credibility by conveying the endorsement of the county’s sheriff and one of its former police chiefs and current city managers. If both now are retreating from the way Campbell characterized their reactions, the proposed change will likely be rethought, and, fairly or not, Campbell’s own credibility may be harmed.

Manfre on Thursday said outright that he never had a conversation about the matter with Campbell. “That conversation never happened,” the sheriff said. “I never talked to Bruce Campbell about anything that happened in the Flagler Beach Police Department and I never will. Ever.” Manfre said he’s had three or four conversations with Campbell, and when they’ve involved city issues, they’ve been about the matter involving a sheriff’s deputy selling home-made alcohol to two members of the Flagler Beach Fire Department who have since been fired. Manfre said he would not get involved in matters involving city police and policies.

“That’s not true. That’s not true,” Campbell said this afternoon. “I did speak to him about a couple of different things, not only the proposed change but even another possible change when we did that.”

“I’m appalled that he doesn’t remember that. But anyway,” Campbell said. “He obviously doesn’t remember I’m telling you the god’s truth.”

Manfre said that had he had a conversation about the elimination of the police chief, he would have termed it “a dumb idea” that “makes no sense.”

Martinez did not dispute that he’d had conversations with Campbell about the changes, but Martinez said he did not characterize his reaction as having “no problem with it.” Martinez said he called the idea “unorthodox,” and that it wouldn’t make a difference in the end, since the head of a police or fire agency is always considered its chief whatever the official title.

Campbell says it’s true that Martinez called the idea “unorthodox,” and that, while Campbell did not use that word when describing Martinez’s reaction to city commissioners, it was still along the lines of Martinez not having a problem with it.

And Campbell, who took exception to Manfre’s suggestion that he was lying to his commissioners, was adamant about the conversation he had with the sheriff about two months ago: a 10-minute conversation, on Manfre’s cell phone, about two issues: the police chief designation, and another matter that Campbell at first would not specify, because it did not come to pass. (As it turned out, the other matter was the elimination of Flagler Beach Police Detective Liz Williams’s job, and the county picking up investigative services for the city. Campbell, after being pressed about the nature of the idea, said it was shelved.)

Specifically, here’s what Campbell said to the commission last week, as transcribed from a video of the meeting:

“There’s nothing that says we have to have a fire chief. There’s nothing that says we have to have a police chief. There are a couple of cities in Florida—I talked to Armando about it, Armando used to be a police chief down in Brevard or Broward County I think it was, I conferred with him on a couple of occasions about this change, he sees no problem, there’s nothing from a statute standpoint. I talked to Drew about it, that mandates that you have to have a fire chief, you have to have a police chief, it’s our choosing for what fits our need and our design and our approach.”

About 30 minutes later during the same meeting, Campbell said: “Like I said I leaned on Armando Martinez quite a bit he being an ex-police chief, when we start thinking about this, I did talk to Sheriff Manfre about it as well, and he didn’t have any heartburn over it as well as our attorney. So I think it’s a good concept…”

Thursday afternoon, Manfre contacted FlaglerLive to say that he had never addressed that issue with Campbell, who was “making a conversation up,” and that “damage is being done” under the assumption that he had endorsed the idea. “Dan is a little bit upset, and I can understand why,” the sheriff said, referring to Dan Cody, the police chief, whose $70,000 job would be eliminated under the Campbell plan and replaced with a $58,000 captain’s position, for which Cody would have to apply if he wanted it. Last week, Cody said he had not made up his mind whether he would apply or retire.

Campbell’s move, which will not save money—the police department’s budget is going up slightly, as personnel is in line for a 3 percent raise—can be interpreted as a maneuver to get rid of Cody, without having to fire him outright.

But Campbell was just as struck with Manfre’s assertions that the conversation had not taken place. After a brief interview, Campbell spoke with Manfre, and relayed, after that conversation, that Manfre was now conceding that the call had, in fact, taken place—but that he was remembering only half the conversation: the portion about the detective issue, not the police chief title.

“The call happened,” Campbell said. “I did call him and I have talked to him and he remembers us talking but he doesn’t remember one half of the conversation.”

In an interview after Manfre had talked with Campbell this afternoon, Manfre said: “He did remind me we did have conversation regarding the detective decision, and it was  months ago, and I said sure, whatever you need,” but nothing on the police chief’s job. Had he been asked about the idea for his comments to be conveyed to the city commissioners, Manfre said, that should have been specified as well.

“What’s the matter what Jim Manfre says as sheriff anyway? Or Armando for that matter. It only matters what his board says,” Manfre said.

“If he wants my comment now I don’t think it’s a good idea.” The title, the sheriff said, has “import” for the community and the employees. “I would have a problem with that change. I don’t understand it.”

Manfre said he would not have discussed internal matters at the police department because he doesn’t want to be accused of making a grab for either the Flagler Beach or the Bunnell police departments, both of which, he says, he respects and are doing a good job, as far as he is concerned.

The disagreement left both Campbell and Manfre perplexed, to put it kindly. Both said their conversation this afternoon was cordial.

“To the extent that he keeps insisting that I said something I didn’t say, it was a cordial conversation,” Manfre said.

“This has got me,” Campbell said. “I don’t know where he’s coming from. Maybe he doesn’t want to get involved in this.” He said he’ll take to his grave his assertions that the conversation took place, and that it involved the police chief’s position.





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28 Responses for “Sheriff Says Conversation With Flagler Beach Manager on Key Police Changes “Never Happened””

  1. HJ says:

    Manfre strikes again !!!!!

  2. markingthedays says:

    I am leaning towards Manfre in the more honest corner

  3. Girl says:

    So Manfre remembers things that didn’t happen, and then doesn’t remember things that DID?

    Guess that politics they way he plays.

  4. FB Insider says:

    Shocker, Campbell lying and making things up AGAIN to push his motives and accomplish his goals. Now he is calling the Sheriff a liar, and essentially playing on words with Bunnell’s City Manager? Not too smart Mr. Campbell ……

  5. CITY EMPLOYEE says:

    What a tangled web we weave when we try to decieve. twisted the truth just a little!!! .sounds to good to be true then its got to be a good story .Deception this is what you get when you dont tell the truth and you turn everything into a fable a fictitios narrative or statement —untruth–a story of marvelous happenings!!!!! that is what you spin every time .GREEN ACRE is the place to be!!!! The master plan!!!!!

  6. AMOS says:

    WOW, We Want to Retract the Statements We Made About Mr. Martinez & Mr. Manfre!!!!! We Made a Decision Based on What The City Mgr. Stated and Cant believe What We are Reading Now!!!! Thank You Mr. Martinez and Sheriff Manfre for Bringing this to Light, Not Sure at This Point if All The Chaos thats Happened to Our City Since Mr. Campbell has Taken Over if He, or a Combination of Our New Elected Officials as Well are Responsible, But One Thing is VERY OBVIOUS, We Need a “CHANGE” in Our City and its Leaders, “ASAP” Because for the 30 Plus Years We have lived Here, We have NEVER Experienced Such Turmoil and Chaos that is Destroying OUR Tiny Town of Friends and Family!!!!!!! We Used to Live in a Very Comfortable, Drama Free Community of Tight Nit People, Everyone Looking After Each Other and This Nonsense Has Got to “STOP”!!!!! Starting from the TOP Down!!! FLAGLER BEACH CITY COMMISIONERS YOU BETTER STEP UP TO THE PLATE, or AS FAST AS WE VOTED YOU IN, YOULL BE VOTED “OUT” VERY, VERY SAD, But VERY , VERY “TRUE” !!!!!!! ALICE BAKER PLEASE RETURN!!!!! PS WE LOVE OUR POLICE DEPT!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Mr. Cody for your Years of Dedication to Flagler, as Well as You Mr. Parrish!!!!!!! DET. LIZ WILLIAMS, YOU ARE THE ” BEST” !!!!!!!!!

  7. RNYPD says:

    First no I didn’t say it then it is, wait what does it matter what I may have said and then back to we talked and it was cordial but I didn’t say that. Fish out of water, Liar liar!! Flip flop

  8. Solo says:

    I’m leaning toward the conversation having taken place. Martinez admitted to  having a conversation. Is Campbell falsely recollecting one conversation but not the other? Somehow i don’t think so. He’s an idiot for drumming up this going chiefless idea for sure along with some other stupid things since he went from maintenance man to city manager. He’s obviously not smart enough to realize where the liability that would normally fall on the chief would fall now if his idea comes to fruition…. Leave the policing to the police Mr Campbell and for safety s sake put a couple more cops on the road. Crazy that we have to read about one officer patrolling the whole city.

  9. John C says:

    All 3 are dirt-bags. We keep voting these types in. Wake up Flagler County voters!

  10. Solo says:

    Two quotes from the article… contradiction? make your own conclusion:

    Manfre said: “He did remind me we did have conversation regarding the detective decision, and it was months ago, and I said sure, whatever you need,”

    ” Manfre said he would not have discussed internal matters at the police department”

  11. confidential says:

    I am glad the Sheriff is staying out of it!
    How could anyone believe that our Sheriff could advise to fire a police chief in any of the cities in his county and for not justifiable fault of that police chief at all?
    I know that Flagler Beach residents pay higher taxes than Palm Coasters…so where all the money goes?
    No offense to Mr. Campbell but those FB Commissioners need to get the magnifying glass in those financial’s, other than wasting so much time in lashing out at some of those restaurant owners in the ocean front.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like Campbell trying to dig his way out of that political grave he dug himself with the Fire Dept. scandal incident. Pretty disappointing when people you hire turn out to be criminals themselves! And now with a rape investigation underway in the city……this guy not only wants to eliminate the Fire Chief position, but he also wants to eliminate the Detective and Police Chief positions on the PD! I have an idea Mr. Campbell……why not just eliminate the City Manager’s position while you are at it and save the city even more money??

    First of all Mr. Campbell……you need to learn how to manage your own city before you begin trying to take down two decorated law enforcement professionals just so you can attempt to cover up your own mess? You were caught in a lie, on the record, and now suddenly your recollection of events is the only one that is true? After all the chaos in YOUR city that has happened under YOUR watch, I will take the word of Sheriff Manfre and former Bunnell Police Chief Martinez over your political ca-ca.

    If you are able to fire the Fire Chief, the Assistant. Fire Chief, a Firefighter/Paramedic, Volunteer Fire Police Captain, and a Volunteer Firefighter for mere allegations of either driving city vehicles under the influence of alcohol (witnesses who themselves may have been drinking as well) or for possessing alcohol in a city building (the Fire Station)……why is it that a Firefighter who tampered with physical evidence to cover up the fact that he falsified the community service records of a felon is only suspended for short time and then suddenly promoted to Acting Fire Chief after formal criminal charges were filed against him with the State Attorney’s Office? He should have been fired immediately and without hesitation. But no, he is apparently a member of your own personal “CLIQUE” on the Fire Department…… that the other “CLIQUE” has been fired over mere accusations and have yet to have any criminal charges brought against them. Hard to imagine that the mere word of this “ACTING FIRE CHIEF” is the sole reason for the investigation of those who were terminated.

    I hope that the Flagler Beach City Commission takes a step in the same direction that the Bunnell City Commission recently took…….and FIRES Bruce Campbell at the next Commission Meeting, and gets someone in that office that actually knows how to manage the city…..rather than make it his own personal political playground! With any luck, maybe an ethics investigation will be launched against Mr. Campbell. I mean, after all, his own investigations have proven that all you need to fire someone is a mere accusation without physical proof!

  13. Realty Check says:

    Two politicians coving their ass, nothing more

  14. Anonymous says:

    My,My,My, you people amaze me. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that the fb residents had a chance to get rid of 2 commissioners but only 1 person ran than dropped out? So who would the residents been able to vote for? the c.a. is only a puppet of the commissioners everyone knows that. As far as cross training that may work in city hall but it takes alot of time and money to train/certify someone;the answer to that is hire a person that is already qualified to do the job.As far as dept’s. not having a chief/supervisor ;do your homework and you will find out from the employees i have talked too past/present that 2 dept’s. haven’t had a chief/supervisor for years now and those dept.s run just fine so it can be done and being a non-union right to work state people can be let go for no reason ;but fortunately most jobs don’t let good people go for no reason. the c.a. is just trying to find ways to save money and bring revenue in. The past commissoners/voters choose not to annex land years ago when it was alot cheaper but no one wanted that so palm coast thanks you and they will take what land fb doesnt want including john anderson (they already have that in the works; just waiting for the economy to improve). who cares what manfre remembers/doesnt remember thats not the issue.The issue is how to save the taxpayers money and bring in more money without raising taxes and still have the goods/services that the fb residents want.Parking as always been an issue that is nothing new and still no one has figured out what to do about that? So the next time elections come up in bunnell and fb i want to see at least 50 people running for a seat on the commssion and everyone vote or quit complaining.don’t ask me because i don’t live in the city limits but i do vote everytime it comes get what you pay/vote for.Palm coast is waiting to take over anytime. Just a phone call away; is that what you fb residents really want? At least bunnell is starting to annex land for future development and growth to bring in more revenue. Good Luck fb residents and make it a good day; don’t let anyone bring you down.

  15. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Say what you must about Bruce Campbell but I have found him to be a “stand-up guy”, not a liar!

    • FB Insider says:

      Really? Isn’t this the same guy who removed an agenda item you were wanting to discuss without telling anyone, hoping they wouldn’t notice?

  16. Ron Hubbard says:

    Lots of people conveniently forget conversations and what they actually said. Just ask Eric Holder.

  17. nyy says:

    Anyone who speaks to Jim Manfre had better tape the conversation!!!

  18. Out of Curiosity says:

    Glad he decided against cutting Det. Williams’ position.

  19. one who knows says:

    Isn’t this a violation of the Sunshine law ? Regardless of who said what to which, or not, it still seems very creepy.

  20. Grace says:

    This is the most ridiculous and childish thing I have heard in quite a while. I was waiting for quotes of “nuh uh” and “uh uh.” Flagler County is smearing mud across its own face. How ignorant can you be? Really Campbell, which specific departments are functioning independently without a chief? It makes no sense like a school without a principal or a band without a conductor. And you want to cut Detective Williams’ position when obviously SHE IS THE ONLY PERSON IN THIS FIELD DOING HER JOB. Thanks Liz for being a voice of clarity in this sea of blabbering and bickering.

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