Sheriff Rick Staly this evening held the third annual public Addressing Crime Together meeting of his administration, an hour-long and glowing self-evaluation conducted virtually this year through the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and in the final stretch of his reelection campaign, such as it is: the sheriff faces little opposition, has a six-figure treasure chest and a popularity none of the previous three sheriffs enjoyed heading into reelection going back 20 years.
In previous years, the event drew significant attendance at the Hilton garden Inn, but this year’s coronavirus pandemic would have made a socially-distanced, in-person event difficult.
The timing of the event was not intended to coincide with the campaign. It had been scheduled for March, then June, postponed both times because of covid-19, and was finally moved to a virtual setting, though there was no question that Staly used at least parts of the presentation to make campaign-like appeals to Second Amendment advocates, little relevance though the statements have on local law enforcement.
Still, going above and beyond with the current rhetorical equivalent of filet mignon for Second Amendment advocates, he made a striking statement toward the end of his presentation that called for a so-called open-carry law–the carrying of arms openly in public, seemingly contradicting statements he’d made earlier about the dangers and high rate of road-rage and domestic incidents involving firearms. (Florida is one of five states that has no open-carry law except in rare exceptions, though 2.2 million Floridians have concealed carry permits, including nearly 15,000 in Flagler.)
“As long as I am the sheriff of Flagler County, we are not going to enforce unconstitutional laws that infringe on your Second Amendment right,” he said, suggesting that he would interpret which existing laws would be constitutional and which would not be, though that’s the courts’ purview, not the sheriff’s. “As far as open carry, I don’t have the authority to make that law. That is th Legislature that would have to do that. We have limited open carry now with certain criteria, but I support open carry. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Now I would prefer you call us, and let us respond and handle it. But I want you to be able to protect yourself and your family, and sometimes we can’t get there fast enough. I can tell you that we are investigating two cases right now that preliminary facts appear that they are stand your ground cases.”
In the less ideological majority of his presentation, Staly discussed crime in Flagler County, impacts of Covid-19, the initiatives the Sheriff’s Office has made to improve public service, and agency plans for 2020. Approximately 1,900 people viewed the meeting virtually on Facebook. It was also simulcast on WNZF News radio.
“Across America today there is an important discussion on law enforcement concerning positive community engagement, use of force policies, accountability and the training law enforcement should have. Your sheriff’s office is proud to be a four-diamond accredited agency and recognized as a leader on these issues on these issues and many more,” Staly said, unveiling new web pages on transparency, training, use of force policies, vice policing and more.
Calls for service have continued to increase “dramatically” even as the crime rate has fallen to historic lows–down 47 percent since 2017. Violent crime is down 11 percent. “This is the lowest crime rate since 1995 in Flagler County,” the sheriff said, crediting the community and “guardianship policing,” which he described as not policing the community, but policing with the community. He later noted that crime for the first six months of 2020 was down 24.9 percent, though those six months include three months of the pandemic and the April lockdown, when crime fell sharply across the country.
Covid-19 has had its negative effects, Staly said, such as a 2 percent increase in domestic violence, with firearms used in 38 percent of the cases, compared to just 16 percent in 2019. “So people are pulling guns on each other,” he said, “and that’s considered aggravated assault in Florida.” In 2019, he said, one child was the offender in domestic violence. In 2020, some 23 percent of cases involved a child in the home as the offender. “We attribute that to school being out and the pressures of homeschooling and those kijd of things that went on, which is why we think covid had a significant part in this increase.”
“Road rage was also an issue on I-95, U.S. 1 and Belle Terre and Palm Coast Parkway, where there were cases of motorists pulling a gun on other motorists for such things as being cut off. ‘That is not what you do, and it will eventually cause somebody to be hurt,” Staly said. “All of it can be avoided.” To counter the trend, the department launched a traffic safety campaign to combat aggressive driving behavior, which he said is “usually a learned behavior.” An aggressive driver exhibiting that behavior to his or her children is seeding the same habit in those children once they become drivers, the sheriff said, illustrating his point with a video featuring him saying “it’s time to grow up.”
Staly outlined a series of policing tactics and strategies implemented in his nearly four-year tenure (he’s running for reelection this November, in a race he is expected to win handily.) Most of the initiatives have been reported on extensively–from license-plate readers that have led to the arrest of 126 people, the recovery of 14 missing persons and the recovery of 68 stolen vehicles, plus 19 fugitives. He spoke of grants secured (just over $700,000 this year), the addition of a 10-person traffic team (half on Harleys, half in Mustangs) to various initiatives at the jail for adults and an initiative intended to keep juveniles from straying into crime. He spoke of his “high interest target list,” targeting drug houses in neighborhoods. “You make this list by being a repeat offender,” Staly said. “You do not want to make my sheriff’s high interest target list.” Those on it don’t know they’re on it until the SWAT team shows up at their door.
Some initiatives have nothing to do with crime, like “Safe Trak,” a bracelet system intended to help reduce the wandering or loss of people suffering from dementia. The jail meanwhile continues its streak of zero inmates infected by covid-19, though a few staffers have been. He reiterated that “we all need to do our part” to slow the spread of the disease even if the mask mandates various local governments have approved are not enforceable, he said.
Ahead: a cold-case unit that will reopen several unsolved cases, and a “fatherhood program” at the jail, addressing the generational causes of crime and encouraging fathers released from jail to be “real fathers.” Staly ended his presentation with an invitation to individuals looking for a career in law enforcement, though one of the bullet points in the presentation took an unfortunate and likely not intended turn of phrase, as it could easily be misinterpreted–“anything you want to do in law enforcement you can do at the FCSO”. (Just last month the agency charged and arrested one of its deputies for allegedly doing a bit too much of what he wanted to do.)
In October, the International Association of Chiefs of Police at its virtual conference will be announcing that the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has won the Victim Services Award for placing victims at the center of the agency’s services. Staly said the sheriff’s office was up against 19,000 police agencies in the country, including 3,000 sheriff’s offices. “That’s who we were competing with, and your sheriff’s office was selected.”
I respect Staley and the low crime. I just feel that he had too much power in the sheriffs new building. If it’s not my way, I’m not playing. He works fir the county and taxpayers. He should have some to say where they are housed, but not throw a fit until he gets what he wants. I would have fixed the multi million dollar blunder and informed that is your new home. I believe he does not have the right of refusal if it was repaired. I guess the sheriff and Hammock do control this county.
Reinhold Schlieper says
I am reasonably certain that the shooter of Kenosha, Kyle Rittenhouse, saw himself as a “good guy” with a gun. And that’s precisely the problem with the stance that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. I am very disappointed that Sheriff Staly would assume that kind of a wild-west mentality. The Second Amendment says nothing about possible licensing of guns and testing of the people who own them to be sure that they are “good guys with guns.” Also, the sheriff appears to have a rather stolid fixation on the enforcement of drug without any views on the treatment of drug addicts. A good example of where decriminalization has reduced deaths is Portugal.
Larry Bell says
I agree , no open carry. It’s an irrational position, and a dangerous one.
He is 17 and made a very stupid decision, and he will pay for it if it is found to bot be self defense. Personally I feel if he is found guilty he should receive the death penalty, and I am pro gun, pro 2A. I also believe in accountability.
even the commie pinko new york times ,which makes flagler live seem like a voice for conservatives, is now saying that it appears that Rittenhouse acted in self defense
Obviously Staly is doing a good job, although I often question his antics. I am disappointed that Staly would advocate for open carry. It’s a sad reflection on our community if citizens feel the need to strap on firearms. Easy access to guns is certainly a part of the problem.
The Voice Of Reason says
I agree with Duncan. The Sheriff and his Department are doing a very good job. De-escalation techniques appears to be a central part of the current Sheriffs administrations success. That said, I don’t feel comfortable with the citizenry walking around with their weapons proudly displayed. The only guns I care to see on display is on law enforcement. Concealed carry should be the extent of it. I’m really not comfortable with that. In our society, gun ownership does far more harm than good. Too many guns fall into the wrong hands. Whether stolen, purchased through loopholes at gun shows, or misused by legal firearm ownership through bad judgement, intoxication, various phases of mental illness or systemic racism. America is a cesspool of excessive gun ownership. Guns are a leading form of mental illness in America. People are OBSESSED with guns. That said, thank you Sheriff Staly and your department for a job well done. You have my vote.
Mike Cocchiola says
This is so stupid. Just whem I think Republicans have hit rock bottom in the gene pool, one of them grabs a shovel and digs deeper toward their Neanderthal roots.
Staly supports open carry of lethal weapons… in Flagler County! Is crime so bad in Flagler, in spite of Staly’s claim to to the contrary, that citizens need to arm themselves? To protect themselves from what… an errant shopper bumping into them? Someone jumping the line in Publix! Should we start killing people for fenderbenders? Or like Kenosha, WI, an extra-legal “Vigilante” shoots three and kill two with a semi-automatic assault weapon during a protest? So I would have to fear for my life protesting against Trump? Is that the plan?
But, I’ll concede that Staly is not such an idiot as he appears. He is, however, a politician. And he’s pandering to the Republican zealots who’d love to turn back to the wild west of the 1870s. Except even then many western towns forbade the carring of guns because they knew it leads to violence and death.
This is so egregiously stupid that I expect Commissioner Mullins and his Trump Club to pick up and run with it.
Trailer Bob says
Trump, Trump, Trump….Republicans, Republicans, Republicans…?
I personally do not feel the need for open carry, as I would rather NOT be the first target of a criminal or crazy person with a gun. No one needs to know if I am armed or not.
But, you have jumped from the story by a significant leap.
As for Mullins, that story already ran and most of us do not approve of his behavior or intellectual reasoning.
If you re-read your comment though, and if you can be honest, you may see that you are also part of the problem with regard to hate and division. Have a nice day.
Only Me says
Please do not allow open an carry that 17 year old carried a AK Assault weapon telling those in the streets he was a paramedic which was a lie. What in the world allows a 17 year old to carry such a weapon and according to reporters on the scene no officer stopped him. Sorry but I have a problem with that. And where did he get such a dangerous weapon? Our gun laws and those that own them new a logical review of the system.
No one wants to stop those to have a gun for their protection but assault automatic weapons need to be banned and only used in our military by trained officers.
Having people walk the streets with weapons is only going to cause more innocent lives to be hurt, especially when those carrying those weapons are usually stolen and only used to cause harm.
Our politicians, law enforcement officials and local government officials need to be promoting citizens to respect each other and not to promote violence of any kind.
Sheriff Staly spoke last night of road rage and those with guns in their cars shooting at people, this is what will happen more if those kind of people are allowed to walk around with a firearm.
Trailer Bob says
You will never control criminals because, well…they’re criminals…don’t care about the laws, as they seem not to apply to them.
I do not believe that the country is so bad or coming to an end.
This is what happens when there is social media and 24/7 news, all exaggerated on both sides.
Here is an idea…how about not showcasing criminals 24/7 and justifying their breaking of laws.
I am not a bigot, racist, or looney. But I will continue to see all that is good and always attempt to be kind to others.
Just appreciate everything you do have, and stop thinking that it is the job of others to assure you enjoy your short time here on earth.
There is no need for open carry in Flagler County. IMO nothing that FCSO or licensed carry folks cannot take care of. Start with the demand of crime and drugs. I Saw it firsthand in your Town. Boomers wanting drugs prostitution via DB and other nefarious sources the web. You folks bring the bad habits your kids and our your problem child Grands to the party and frankly its a mess. Sad when the FCSO is the best thing going for FC. There is a criminal soft underbelly to your County that few would believe or frankly be aware of. IFF you see something SAY something.
Right On, Mike! I couldn’t agree more!
We have increased gun violence and deaths in several large cities in the USA. Everyone seems to be blaming the increase on the pandemic and on the protests. . . . WHY? WHY? WHY? isn’t there a national outcry for stronger “Gun Safety Regulations”? Why do we have “TEENAGERS” armed with weapons of mass destruction mowing down protesters?
Why do we continue “jail” instead of “treat” those who are addicted to drugs?
Why do we continue to use strong arm tactics to attempt to solve all human difficulties?
Why do we continue to view people of color as “inferior”, here only to “serve and protect” Caucasians in many ways from the military, to picking crops, to gardening, to caring for the young/ill/elderly. Here only to “entertain” wealthy Caucasians as “gladiators” on sports teams.
Sheriff Staly lives in a reality that is viewed through a filter that sees people of color to be controlled by a highly armed, untrained white citizen populace. He is a creature of the segregated past, not the 22nd century or the future. Yes, fear filled the trump cult will likely keep him in office.
Edith Campins says
Wait, Staly says Flagler County is safe due to the good job he is doing so why do we need open carry? Are you going to shoot your pesky neighbor because his bushes overhang your yard? Or maybe you need it to shoot the guy in the 10 item supermarket line becuase he has 11 items? Or maybe you want to shoot the little old lady who cut you off in traffic? Well, let me tell you I am a very angry woman who is sick and tired of our local government buying sick buildings with my tax dollars, you don’t want me running around with a loaded gun, especially when the idiot behind me in line isn’t wearing a mask.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Well said Edith Campins – I could not have expressed my own feelings any better than you have. Do I now have to be petrified of getting the Virus in addition to being shot to death because someone doesn’t like me taking ‘too long’ to check food expiration dates when shopping?
Extremely disappointed. I have been supportive of Sheriff Staly but these comments are extremely upsetting. He acknowledges road rage is up, domestic violence is up, and says people are pulling guns on each other. Then he advocates for open carry laws, encourages the carrying and use of guns, and states he will choose when to enforce the law based on his view of whether it is Constitutional or not. Sorry. You just lost my vote.
Trailer Bob says
I am sure that the Sheriff was speaking about persons who are legally licensed to carry, not just anyone as referenced in some of the above comments.
But I do not think that open carry is necessary or wise as presented. I conceal because it is no ones business to know IF I have a piston on me. It is for protection, not intimidation.
Some things are better left concealed.
And, we have heard enough from all of you who try to squeeze in “Trump” at every turn.
How bad is it in ones world when all they can talk about is Trumpsters?
This coming election is not about Trump or Biden, it is about our countries safety, out economy, jobs, any other substantial and not partisan issues. Want to vote for Biden? Go ahead.
@A good sheriff –
who faces no serious opposition to his re-election ought not disgrace himself with pandering to the fringe element kooks in HIS party and the appearance of prostituting his high office to gun lobby bagmen. The out loud whistle to the shadows is indefensible.
Furthermore, the Sheriff is certainly and absolutely aware of FS 790.10:
The 2019 Florida Statutes
Title XLVI CRIMES
Chapter 790 WEAPONS AND FIREARMS
790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms.—If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083…
From desantis (and his daddy, donald j putin jr) on down, the corruption goes all the way to the bone. If WE don’t rid ourselves of the criminals currently doing only, and always, as they personally please, they will destroy and erase the rule of law – and the idea of justice too. Recorded human history offers innumerable examples that should instruct us in the current moment.
Wake up. VOTE – as soon as possible. Your very life depends upon it.
Jeff Sica says
“… where there were cases of motorists pulling a gun on other motorists for such things as being cut off. ‘That is not what you do, and it will eventually cause somebody to be hurt,” Staly said. My question here is, is this the good guy with the gun, or the bad guy? And just who makes that determination? Hint, if someone who is angry over what may well have been a mistake (though, trust me, Palm Coast has far more than it’s fair share of bad and/or aggressive drivers), odds are he’s the bad guy. Open carry will simply make it easier for the bad guys, or unstable “good guys” to “cause somebody to be hurt”. It looks like Rittenouse was initially perceived as a “good guy with a gun”. I’m a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, but it needs to be viewed in the context of comtemporary technology. When it was written, in 1789, I believe muskets were the weapon of choice. If the Founders could have envisioned automatic or semi automatic weapons we have today, I’d like to think their abundance of common sense would have thrown in a few limits and regulations. Common sense, however, it quite uncommon these days.
Sheriff Staly while somewhat effective is a grand stander. I will not vote for him and will support any republican that will challenge him. If none do, I will simply not vote for any candidate for sheriff.
Ron Davis says
I have generally been impressed with Sheriff Staley’s level headed attitude until now. To say that he will not enforce laws that he feels are unconstitutional is very disturbing and plays up to followers of a misinterpreted version of our second amendment rights. And, expressing his support for ‘open carry’ is inviting trouble. More people carrying more guns will never be a good way to solve our social or legal issues.