Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly can name many local personalities, some of them mildly famous by Intracoastal Waterway standards, who’ve ridden alongside him as part of his continuing Friday patrols. But none have been as famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) as Oliver North, the crusading ex-felon of the Reagan years and current president of the National Rifle Association. Nor, it could be said, has any felon charged 18 times over ever ridden in the front seat alongside Staly.
But Staly could make an exception Monday, because North was in town not for his own sake, but to honor Staly: Flagler County’s sheriff is one of five finalists for the NRA’s Officer of the Year, a nomination he earned over his role saving the life of a fellow-Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in the early 1970s, when Staly was shot several times and severely wounded.
So for a little over an hour Monday, North rode with Staly, patrolling the streets of Flagler County with a camera crew in the back seat, driving through Palm Coast to Flagler Beach, up A1A toward Marineland, back across town, and off to dinner at Carraba’s, where keen eyes spotted the aging North with the sheriff and started selfie requests with the old lieutenant colonel.
“He enjoyed seeing Flagler County, we had dinner at Carraba’s, where certainly a number of people recognized him,” Staly said. “They came up to him and asked if they could have their picture taken with him and he accommodated everybody that came up.” On patrol, there were no incidents warranting a traffic stop or anything more serious, though it wasn’t long after the patrol ended that Staly reported to a death investigation in the C-Section. Without North.
Staly had initially intended to keep his 15 miles of fame with North under wraps, not knowing if it was kosher to let out the NRA-TV’s secret, but he got a call from WNZF’s David Ayres, who’d been tipped off that the sheriff was seen with North at Carrabas–not exactly the most out of the way place to take a famous person in Palm Coast, though North has never been very good at keeping secrets: it was a small Beirut weekly with a circulation smaller than the Observer’s, called “The Sail,” that broke the Iran-Contra story.
The NRA created the Officer of the Year award in 1993 to recognize “an exceptional act or service by a law enforcement officer,” taking nominations from “anyone having knowledge of the nominee’s actions. This includes, but is not limited to, the nominee’s agency head, other law enforcement officials, elected officials, fellow officers, community leaders, interested citizens, and NRA members.” Staly says he has no idea who nominated him–only that the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office got a phone call and an email announcing the nomination, and that an NRA-TV crew would be in town to do some filming, as it did on Sunday for much of the day.
In 24 years, the award has gone to a Floridian law enforcement officer of the year. It was Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary in 1996, when Staly was in that same agency–the same Beary Staly ran against eight years later and brought a successful ethics suit against.
Staly couldn’t tell if North was armed when they patrolled, but the sheriff did show him where his own weapons were, including his AR-15 assault rifle, in case they got in a shootout: he told North he knew he was a good shot, and could use his help if they were under fire. It wasn’t an outlandish suggestion, considering the shootout that earned Staly his NRA nomination.
“He’s very down to earth, he’s a very social, very interesting guy,” Staly said of North. “He’s 75 years old, doesn’t look it at all, still runs three miles a day. But he’s very interesting, certainly has some very interesting life stories and stories, I’m sure I just heard a tip of an iceberg about.”
An iceberg that nearly brought down the until-then titanic Reagan presidency.
North was a lowly lieutenant colonel, a mid-level National Security Council staffer in the Reagan administration who early in the second Reagan term vaulted to fame through the sort of treachery that never lacks for starry-eyed admirers who see means and ends as the red and white stripes of the same flag: he was instrumental in illegally trading missiles for American hostages held in Beirut as the president lied on national TV (“We did not — repeat — did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we,” Reagan said after 500 TOW missiles were delivered to Tehran and a hostage was released). And North led the secret, illegal funding of Nicaraguan Contra rebels in violation of a congressional ban. All with Fawn Hall as his faithful shredder.
The Iran-Contra affair showed the Ragan administration at its roguest, led the nation to the brink of a constitutional crisis and the Reagan presidency to the brink of collapse–until North collapsed for it, taking the fall, playing the crocodile-teared patriot in a Laurence Olivier-like performance at the Iran-Contra hearings, and riding his newfound fame to a $13 million haul for his North Legal Defense and Family safety Trust. He was tried on 16 felony counts, convicted on three, but his conviction was vacated on a technicality and the charges eventually dismissed, freeing him to the logical next step: a run for the U.S. Senate (he lost to a Democrat), a regular gig on Fox News, and becoming president of the National Rifle Association in 2018.
North actually brought up the Iran-Contra matter in his conversation with Staly, though he did not call it that, and what he did say about it remains, unsurprisingly, classified.
Staly, a lifelong NRA member and staunch conservative, was clearly taken by North. “It was quite an honor to meet him,” Staly said, without being unaware of his past. “In my opinion,” he said of north, he’s “an american hero, he loves this country, and that was very clear.”
It’s not yet been announced when the NRA’s Officer of the Year will be named, though previous awards were revealed at the NRA’s annual meeting. The meeting this year (“15 acres of guns and gear”) is scheduled for April 25-28 in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, footage from this week’s filming should appear this spring on NRA TV’s “American Heroes” program, according to the sheriff’s office.
Mikey Eyes says
Breaking news: Mikey Eyes votes for Sheriff Staly for NRA’s Officer of the Year! Good Luck Sheriff.
Col. North is a hero in my book.
Rick G says
I always thought Sheriff Staly was an okay guy but with the endorsement of the likes of ex-felon Oliver North I have to re-think that feeling. North should be in prison for his horrendous acts in which he worked with a known American enemy at the time (Iran) so this country could work to over throw democratically elected governments in Latin America. That is treason….
Concerned Citizen says
I respect Sheriff Staley’s achievements and his ability to steer clear of scandals – unlike his predecessors. I despise the NRA. I think their policies and lobbying have actually caused numerous deaths. (This from someone who has cherished guns since 8 years of age). The NRA might even be complicit in funneling Russian money to political campaigns in our country. Dubious honor.
Why is the NRA involved with our sheriff? This is just short of an outrage considering the history behind the organization and the current scandals they are involved in, I think this is in very poor judgement on the sheriffs part and a very bad look for our county as a whole.
Officer of the year? says
How do you get officer of the year in 2019 for being shot in the 1970s? While we are at it, why don’t we nominate jaws for best picture?
Steve Vanne says
Let the NRA hating begin…
Very cool! Sheriff Staly would be an outstanding representative for the great NRA!
If I’m not mistaken was this photo taken at the “SICK” Sheriffs Operations Center ? If it is why would Staly take him there and risk exposure?
Willy Boy says
Politics aside, the likes of Col. North and G. G. Liddy are just the guys you want covering your back.
Guns down cocaine back North.
Congrats sheriff your doing a great job.
Way to go Sheriff, hope you win . And regardless of what “some ” may believe. Col Oliver North did what he had to , to keep America safe. Thank You, and Thanks for stopping down here .
Oliver North is a hero of major proportions, I wish I could’ve met him. Congrats Sheriff Staly, you are gonna be our Sheriff as long as you want to be.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Aw shucks… Too bad the Plantation Bay water/wastewater plant wasn’t part of the tour…. I despise the NRA but must thank Sheriff Staley for being on the job 24/7 and he does deserve merit for risking his own life to save another no matter how long ago.
The NRA may have started out as a meaningful organization but today they are involved in laundering money now with the Russians and Republicans. The NRA is no longer a respected organization and I am sure Mr. Mueller has his eyes on them.
@ Officer of the year? And Dave,
It’s my understanding that a former Sheriffs Office employee who was brought in under Manfre/Staly now works for Ollie North. So that’s probably how that happens and in my opinion, that connection should exempt Staly from consideration in my opinion and I am pro NRA.
If you go back to the beginning, it appeared evident that the Sheriff didn’t believe his employees (possibly still doesn’t). Some proof (in my opinion) is in the lip sync challenge video as he is walking the hall of the building (after it was evacuated) pretending to come up with an idea for the challenge. If you believe a building is toxic and made people sick, you would not be in that building…especially after it was evacuated….but whether it’s believed or not, smarter thinking dictates that (when seeking another term) it would be a political disaster to discredit 30 something employees….but hey, what do I know.
Michael Cocchiola says
Oliver North is a lying snake. He corrupted our government and insulted every military officer. The NAR is a domestic terrorist group so I guess North’s a good fit for it. And I’ve just written off Staley for embracing North and the NRA.
@Why is Staly
fraternizing with an ex con bagman who leads a so-called organization that defends the sale of cop killer ammo to any mouth breather that can pay for it? Oh – that’s right, he’s a Republican.
North’s convictions were vacated. Took the fall at the time for a lot of others.
Read up..yea he was a Republican, and your point is ??
Col. Oliver North for SHERIFF !!!!
Didn’t you already get awarded by your agency in Orange County in the 1970s and then by Governor Rick Scott a few years ago. I’m tired of seeing all of this look at me, look at me. How about this you do your job and manage that agency what we taxpayers are paying you to do and still out of the camera light for once!
We’re dealing with a “pat myself on the back” mentality. Most know i’ts the men and women in patrol that are the backbone of the agency. They’re the first ones on any scene and the Sheriff shows up after being apprised of the situation or hears it via police radio. He certainly is not on the front lines but in our county’s case, we seem to have a Sheriff who wants the naive voting public to believe he’s calling all the shots during critical incidents and that without him, we’d have utter chaos on our streets.
Iva Hadit says