By 5 p.m. today a four-person oral board will have completed interviews with nine candidates vying to be the next police chief in Flagler Beach, replacing Dan Cody, who is retiring. Except that the person hired will not be called Chief, but Captain.
It’s part of City Manager Bruce Campbell’s plan to reorganize the Flagler Beach Police Department and the Flagler Beach Fire Department, neither of which will have a chief anymore. Interviews for the fire department’s captain position have not yet been scheduled.
Candidates started interviewing Monday. They include:
- Leslie Cantrell II, a long-time Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy who retired in 2011.
- William Shamp, a cop with the Flagler Beach Police Department since 2011.
- Randall Doyle, a Flagler Beach Police Department cop since 2012 who’d worked 13 years at the Daytona Beach Police Department and, before that, three years at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
- Nathaniel Ingram, a Flagler Beach Police Department cop who’s also worked in the police departments of Chiefland (as an auxiliary), Lake City (full-time) and Palatka.
- Joseph Sisti, who’s worked at the State Attorney6’s Office in the 7th District, which includes Flagler, since 2007, was briefly a cop in St. Augustine, a deputy at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office for two separate stints, and a cop in Ormond Beach for a few months. Sisti applied for the chief’s job in Bunnell last year, but did not make the shortlist.
- Steve Clair, the long-time member of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, rising there to the rank of major until Sheriff Jim Manfre fired him on Manfre’s first day in January. Clair is among seven members of the Sheriff’s Office who have been asked to retire or been fired under Manfre’s tenure, as part of Manfre’s reorganization of the department.
- John Dance, a long-time state trooper whose tenure there ended in May 2012. He retired as a sergeant.
- Matthew Doughney, who was a cop in Daytona Beach for 10 years and was a cop in Avon Park from 2008 to 2010.
- Sterling Dutton Jr., who was an officer in South Carolina, rising to lieutenant in the Charleston Police Department.
Randy Burke, a lieutenant in the Bunnell Police Department, submitted his application after the initial nine, though there was no closing date for the position, and he may yet be interviewed. Burke, who was passed over for police chief in Bunnell last year—and is likely to apply there again now that the position has re-opened, and that the main opponent to his accession, almost ex-City Manager Armando Martinez, is gone. Burke has also shown interest in running for the city commission in Bunnell.
Two other applicants withdrew their candidacy, so the 10 interview subjects represent the totality of the number of applicants for the position.
The field will be narrowed down to three after the interviews, and those three candidates will be presented to the Flagler Beach City Commission at an Oct. 3 workshop—not for the commission to make any decisions on the applicants, but for Campbell to see how the candidates interact with the commissioners and the mayor.
The interview board consisted of Campbell, Cody, Bunnell Police Chief Jeff Hoffman (who will soon move to the sheriff’s office), and Chuck Jones, a store manager at Publix who represents the community on the board. The interviews were held behind closed doors.
“The goal of the oral review,” Campbell briefed city commissioners last week, “is to determine how well the candidate can communicate, express ideas, articulate their thoughts, prepare written documents—along with, of course, demonstrating a proven ability within the law enforcement profession.”
Each applicant was handed the interview questions 30 minutes before the interview and asked the same set of 20 questions (see below). The answers were ranked by each board member.
Clair, the ex-major at the sheriff’s office, was attending a Flagler Beach City Commission meeting on Sept. 12 when Campbell told the commissioners of the briefing packet he’d prepared for them on the upcoming interviews, noting that the interview questions were included. Clair submitted a public records request for the questions and received them on Monday. He was interviewed on Tuesday.
After the oral interview, each candidate was directed to a computer terminal and provided with the following problem statement: “You have received a call from a city commissioner who stated that their son was issued a ticket by a Flagler Beach Police Officer and the ticket was unfairly administered. The commissioner wants the ticket to be taken care of.”
The problem statement was clearly drawn from actual situations, which local cops are wont to face: Just last February, when Lea Stokes, an ex-president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce president was arrested for drunk driving, Stokes asked the arresting officer—Flagler Beach’s J. McCraney—to speak with a supervisor, to ask him to call two city officials “so they could come down and assist her in putting this behind her so she could go home.” The Flagler Beach officers passed the test: they did not comply with Stokes’s request. (The Stokes case is still pending in court, with a possible plea deal in the works for Oct. 2.)
“Please tell us,” the nine applicants are asked in the problem they have to solve, “by typing a response, the process you would use to handle the situation. You have 15 minutes to prepare this report.”
Cody was paid $70,000 a year as police chief. The captain position will pay $58,000. Campbell said he’d checked with Manfre and Bunnell City Manager (and ex-police chief) Armando Martinez about the switch, getting the blessing of both, but both Martinez and Manfre subsequently said they gave no such blessing. Manfre said the change was not wise, and would create situations where, in the presence of several chiefs from other agencies, Flagler Beach’s “captain” would automatically appear to have a lesser rank. Martinez said he’d heard of that being done in rare places, but did not see it creating much difference.
The move, however, was broadly seen as a way for Campbell to get rid of Cody, whom he wanted replaced.