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Sheriff Hires 13 Deputies, Underscoring Turnover of More Than 100 in Three Years

| September 22, 2015

flagler sheriff's office recruits

The Flagler Sheriff’s Office’s 13 new recruits. The names are below. Click on the image for larger view. (FCSO)

Sheriff James L. Manfre welcomed 13 new deputies to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, giving the Sheriff’s Office a total of 191 deputies in law enforcement and detention. The large class of new recruits was cause for celebration at the sheriff’s office Monday.

It is also a reflection of the high turnover rate at the department, which by the end of July had hired 95 full and part time employees, in an agency with 255 full-time and 30 part-time employees, total. That represents a turn-over rate of more than a third in three years. The deputies sworn in Monday, all but one of whom are road deputies, are not filling new positions, but existing, vacant positions.

In late July, the office had 11 open sheriff’s deputy positions. The new budget, which begins on Oct. 1, calls for the addition of a handful of personnel at the jail, on road patrol and within the office’s non-uniformed ranks. Those hires are yet to come.

Jim Troiano, the sheriff’s chief spokesman, said the turnover is not unusual among law enforcement agencies as personnel look for better opportunities–to make more money or have better benefits or to have more opportunities for advancement in larger agencies. “We at times become a training ground,” Troiano said, citing the way the Sheriff’s Office has effectively turned the Bunnell Police Department into a training ground for its own ranks: seven or eight deputies, including one sworn in Monday–Austin Chewning–were hired out of Bunnell, as was Chief Deputy Jeff Hoffman. The 13 new recruits also include Crista Rainey, who’d been an officer at the Flagler Beach Police Department.

malta cops three generations

Three generations of cops: David Malta looks on as his son, Daniel Malta, gets his badge pinned on his uniform by his grandfather and retired cop, Jim Schweers.

“When I was police chief I can tell you people left for better paying jobs,” Troiano said of his time as police chief in High Springs, a small town at the northwestern edge of Alachua County. At the sheriff’s office, he said, “we had some people leave to go make more money, some people that retired, some people that were terminated for inappropriate action, some people that separated in lieu of termination.”

Troiano said he’d done an analytical comparison between the Manfre and Fleming administrations. The analysis will show similarities in turnover, he said, though the precise numbers were not yet available. He said the turn-over doesn’t point to any one particular trend. The two outliers are the jail and the 911 center: turnover at the jail has been low compared to other areas of the agency. But at the communication center, “we’re six positions short in a 22-position center,” 23 with the manager.

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Several deputies never made it through the field training portion of their hire, which required their positions to be re-filled. Several years without substantial pay raises was also a contributor for attrition, though next year deputies will be getting step-pay increases.

At the ceremony Monday, the sheriff, according to an agency release, urged his new employees to strive to improve every day and to “always, always have the back of the person next to you,” he said. “We’re more than law enforcement officers here. We are domestic abuse counselors, we’re marriage counselors, we’re mental health counselors.”Family members and friends of the new recruits had gathered to see them sworn in at the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell. The sheriff also told the deputies that “we’d love to see you spend your
career here.”

That may be as much prayer as wish: of the agency’s 251 full-timers, just eight were hired in the 1980s (all of them in 1985 or after), and 29 were hired in the 1990s. The remaining 214, or 85 percent, have less than 15 years’ longevity with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (and more than a third have less than three years’ service).

Earlier this year the sheriff hired a videographer, in a $40,000 contract, to help produce a recruiting video, among other tasks.

Monday, the sheriff’s office highlighted one particular part of the recruiting ceremony: One young deputy, Daniel Malta, was inspired to join the agency as his father, Deputy David Malta, marks 29 years of service here and plans to retire from the Sheriff’s Office in mid-2016. Malta (a newly minted grandfather) currently serves as the bailiff for County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens.

The law enforcement legacy goes back further: the younger Malta’s grandfather, Jim Schweers, also served at the Sheriff’s Office as a lieutenant, retiring after 17 years. Both men attended the ceremony and his grandfather proudly pinned Daniel’s badge on his uniform.

Daniel Malta and Patrick Pielarz were both Sheriff’s Office Explorers prior to their swearing-in today. The mission of the FCSO Explorer Post is to allow our youth and young adults to explore law enforcement as a possible career choice, develop physical fitness and serve the community. Monday’s ceremony kicks off the deputies’ careers with the FCSO. Pielarz’s previous local claim to fame was his role as Jem in the once-banned then revived production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Flagler Palm Coast High School in 2010.

The 10 men and three women had to complete more than 700 hours of basic recruit training at a law enforcement academy. They will now begin seven weeks of in-house classroom training with the Sheriff’s Office. The classes are known as the Field Training Evaluation Program. It will include everything from firearms, camera systems, evidence collection, policies and DUI training to intensive crisis intervention training and more. Then they go on the road for three months’ training with a field training officer before they will work on their own as they complete their probation.

The new hires are Troy Cavas, 32, of Austin, Texas; Austin Chewning, 26, Bunnell; Blake Colson, 20, Coral Springs; Javia Elmore, 22; Diego Gonzalez, 30, Chile; Daniel Malta, 20, Flagler County; Kyle McLaughlin, 25, Port Orange; Michael Perez, 41, Ocala; Patrick Pielarz, 20, New York City; Crista Rainey, 43, New Jersey; J. Gibson Smith, 27, Daytona Beach; Nicole Thomas, 26, St. Augustine; and Braxton Wall, 30, Palm Coast.

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29 Responses for “Sheriff Hires 13 Deputies, Underscoring Turnover of More Than 100 in Three Years”

  1. 30 year veteran Officer says:

    A turn-over rate this high is totally unacceptable. But this is what happens when you have no leadership within the agency.
    Manfre and Staly have caused this issue and it is time for someone new to straighten their mess up!

  2. I left because... says:

    [Selected as Comment of the Day in the Daily Briefing.–FL]

    I would like to share my experience…my one deputy who left the FCSO after Manfre came into office. I was not fired. I was not under “investigation” for any reason. I have never had any disciplinary action taken against me. I served the FCSO many years. My family is here in Flagler. I love this county. I have a college degree. When Manfre came into office I personally watched him plan and execute a devastating attack on the career deputies in this agency. He first picked Staly. Staly backed Manfre in every executive firing the occurred. At every executive meeting for months they harassed deputies. Promotions….demotions…interviews…resumes…firings…threats…were all tactics used by Manfre and Staly in a sad attempt to “humble” faithful and dedicated employees into submission. Lives and careers, families and children, all affected with devastating results. You see my friends, law enforcement officers are able to exist because they become a family of sorts. They go through difficult times together. They understand the stress of seeing children abused, women abused, innocent people hurt simply because of their race, religion, sexual preference, and really sometimes for no reason whatsoever. Evil exists. Evil wants to destroy. Many different people help the innocent. Reporters, child protection officers, teachers, fire fighters, police officers, service men and women, and many many more… When I observed my brothers and sisters in law enforcement having their lives turned upside down by Manfre and Staly I was faced with a heart-wrenching decision. Defend them or leave. How can a brother or sister simply watch their friends be fired and destroyed for no reason other than political payback and gain? So I resigned. I left. Not for more pay. Not because the FCSO is a training ground. I somehow-someway-envy those who remain. Somehow they were able to look the other way..ignore their brothers and sisters in pain. I was not. I resigned. I quit after years of service. Sure, now I make more money. But my heart remains with the citizens of Flagler county. Hoffman simply does not understand. He retired, went to Bunnell and after an embarrassing affair that hurt many, he settled with Manfre and company. This is my story.

  3. So sad says:

    It looks like this agency is run by a bunch of KIDS! Where have all the men gone? There is no way I feel safe with my safety being put in the hands of kids with little to no experience. it is sad that this agency has been run into the ground by Jim Manfre. When are the charges for the Ethics violations going to be made known?

    • jadobi says:

      These are “NEW” deputies. Where does it say, or where do you gather information that these people are running the Office? They have to start somewhere, most times in the early 20’s, then add 30 years of service. You want a 40 year old class of rookies that are 70 year olds when they retire?

  4. Gkimp says:

    Nice attempt to spin a high turnover percentage, but this kind of turnover comes from poor organizational culture brought on by poor executive leadership, Unfortunaetly, this kind of spin only adds to the problem. These proud young men and women are reading this article that basically tells them if they have anything on the ball, they should start looking elsewhere. The replacing of a veteran officer cost about $100,000 per employee if you figure in recruitment, pre-employment testing, physicals, uniforms, loss of productivity during training, and other associated cost. Law enforcement officers don’t tend to leave one agency for another for the money, they are usually running from poor leadership and bad organizational culture.

  5. Enough already says:

    Congratulations, now here is your ‘ RADAR GUN” and a list of good hiding spots.

  6. dave st. clair says:

    Sheriff Jim Manfre is a complete self centered idiot . I do wish the newly hired sheriffs the best of luck to have to work under such a moron. Flagler County voters really were blind to the fact of a ass clown they voted in last election. That or the rumor that the old Supervisor of Elections rigged Manfre’s win ???
    Either way hope you get what you have coming to you little man.

  7. jim says:

    Well said Enough already i know one that the Bunnell PD trained well !

  8. Derrick R. says:

    Yea Everyone Pile On!
    Here’s a thought and actually the bottom line. Regardless of who steers the ship. Basic police work 101. Follow the money. After over 20+ years of honorable dedicated service it always came down to what are you willing to and capable of doing for compensation. When everyone else is running away, we run in. You want to stop a high turnover rate, you want to hire the best possible personnel for the job. Pay them more than everyone else. A 5yr. Deputy should be making a minimum of 55k + benefits. With wage increase every yeart o not only to keep ahead of inflation but to keep them employed here. The application pool would be flooded for a selection of the cream of crop and also seasoned LE from other jusidictions. In addition require all employees to reside in county.

  9. carol says:

    Do not agree with you Dave,

    Manfre is a true manager, formed in the private sector, not the public BS sector where everyone does as they please and have it easy on tax payer’s dime.
    All officer need to get real and perform their duty as mandated, period!

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Please tell me where Manfre was successful at managing anything in the “private sector”? I’m not sure he has a true employment success story anywhere.

    • Outsider says:

      Why don’t you ask him about his “success” with The Passavia Group? They thought they could take over the airport for a pittance back in the early ’90’s. They claimed to have developed Farmingdale airport on Long Island. When that airport authority was contacted, the response was, “Who?” Another big lie.

  10. Dan Skipper says:

    Manfre is a disaster! And so is the agency now. Staly and Weber both left because Manfre was an incorrigible failed leader. Let’s hope the people of Flagler and FCSO get the chance to experience Staly’s leadership without Manfre in the way! That’s the best thing that could happen! Staly’s the only one qualified to run the department correctly and fix it! Hopefully the voters will get it right this time!!

    • Sonny Boy says:

      Staly is a has been. Elect a younger man in his 40’s with experience and new ideas. If Staly is such a great leader why did he hang around two years and watch Manfre destroy the place. Had I been the Staly, I would have been gone in 4 months. Anytime you have a new Sheriff elected, there are going to be changes and things are in somewhat of turmoil and it should settle down in the first year. Manfre has had nothing but turmoil from the first day he took office. He does not know how to lead an agency.

  11. jadobi says:

    I’ll be the first to comment (sadly) to say welcome to the field. Wear the badge with pride, don’t take things too personal and do the right thing; your integrity is all you have.

  12. Richard Kimble says:

    There’s a few companies out there manufacturing, servicing, and installing revolving doors.
    I’m going to ask them to contact Sheriff Manfre. This way deputies can go out while going in.
    (not necessarily in that order)

  13. Tony says:

    Excuse me but I thought I was looking at my group class picture from my elementary school class !

  14. YankeeExPat says:

    Prayer for Policemen

    O Almighty God, Whose great power and eternal Wisdom embraces the universe, Watch over all policemen and Law enforcement officers everywhere.
    Protect them from harm In the performance of their duty To stop crime, robbery, Riots and violence.
    We pray, help them keep our streets And homes safe, day and night.
    We commend them to your loving care Because their duty is dangerous.
    Grant them strength and courage In their daily assignments. Dear God, protect these brave men and women.
    Grant them your almighty protection, Unite them safely with their families after Duty has ended.
    Please God, grant us this wish.

  15. Oldseadog says:

    Welcome new Deputies

    I hope the most important thing you bring with you to your new position is the true concept
    of integrity to your position. This is probably best expressed by this often noted quote:

    “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
    ― Oprah Winfrey

    (I really wish politicians whom we elect at the local level would adhere to this simple but elegant notion.)

  16. Ray Thorne says:

    Best of luck to the new troops. And how proud the Malta family must be. Though on hard times, still a noble profession.

  17. hmmm says:

    the turn over rate is so high because no one wants to work for this little napoleon sheriff

  18. detentionwho says:

    all new deputies mentioned describe age and home town. except the detention deputy!!! what a surprise, no respect as usual

  19. Can't Say says:

    Troiano likes to spew Manfre’s propaganda. I would venture to say that if you research the numbers specifically for road patrol deputies and supervisors, they will be not even close to Flemming’s turnover rate.

  20. Resident says:

    Let’s make Flagler county a better and safer place. He can do it!

  21. SL Guardino says:

    I used my real name. So lets see if I get harassed to death. If I do I’ll just go the the newspapers and the State Attorney Generals Office this time. Manfre you don’t scare me.

  22. The Truth says:

    They do not want seasoned deputies. They know more the the brass. Yes they should be making $55.000 and up. These people have families. Have you gone to the grocery store lately? I don’t know how some of the deputies do it.

  23. S.L. Guardino says:

    And your cronies better not take it out on my son like in the past.

  24. wHITEWASh says:

    True a lot of experienced people have left the agency over the last couple of years, but don’t forget that 67% of the agencies’ new hires are leaving before completing a whole year with the Sheriff’s Office. If history holds true, 3 of the new hires pictured won’t be with the agency in another 4 months. 2-4 more will quit before finishing their first year.

    Maybe we should look at hiring standards too, but if we did that me might see other personnel improprieties.

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