What is Wrong with Escambia County Law Enforcement? (Updated)

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By Jimmie Staley

This week, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Eric Haines, Pensacola Chief of Police Chip Simmons and Assistant Chief of Police David Alexander sat down at Oscar’s Restaurant with Don Parker of WCOA to discuss the issues that have plagued Escambia County, such as officer involved shootings. Interestingly enough, David Morgan was said “Sixty six percent of unarmed suspects that are shot by officers have two things in common. They fail to comply with officer instructions, and they make furtive movements…The reaction of officers is dictated by the conduct of the person they are interacting with”.

This quote begs the question: what about the remaining thirty-four percent of unarmed people that comply with officer instructions and do not make furtive movements? What exactly constitutes this part of the population being shot? The very thought that someone could be shot by deputy without duly doing anything wrong should scare everyone. What circumstances justify that sort of shooting?

Chief Deputy Eric Haines and Assistant Chief of Police David Alexander made comments that the budget and local talent pool for deputies and officers are factors in these shootings. Chief Deputy Haines says that cadets in the academy make only $12.70 an hour and deputies can only make up to $17 an hour after two years. These circumstances are not unusual to many law enforcement agencies, yet not all law enforcement agencies have reputation of being too quick to make the decision to draw and use a weapon.

According to a police brutality lawyer San Bernardino, Pensacola and Escambia County have a source of people that is very unique. There are a great deal of veterans and former military in the area who may need to just supplement their income. They would seem to be a prime demographic. There is decent presence of young people in the area that should be perfect candidates for law enforcement. These are just passive candidates that will naturally gravitate to this field.

Then there is active recruitment. People know public servants are not paid well, yet for the sake of being a peace officer, many people will still enter the profession. Police dramas are one of the highest rated shows on television. There is an interest in being the good guy riding in on the white horse. The valor of policemen can be used, just as the military does, to act as a means to develop character and leadership while making the world a better place. The honor of serving the community should be a reverent calling for changing the bad in the world. That is one of the most powerful tools used in recruitment—honor.

Community involvement can be a useful tool. Involve law enforcement into community activities to participate one on one with the community. Build bridges within the community, rather than burn them. People need to see that there is no “us” or “them”. They need to see public servants doing good rather than blaming the community for the result of aforementioned issues. Why not have deputies get out of the cars and help in a soup kitchen once a week? Why not show the community that law enforcement wants to be seen as members of the town? Why not crack down on the bad behavior of the employees in the law enforcement agencies? One bad apple spoils the bunch. Make examples of the bad ones.

The problem in Pensacola is this reputation. The entire law enforcement profession is seen subpar or corrupt. There are stories like Victor Steen in 2009 who was tased on a bicycle by a pursuing Pensacola Policeman in a cruiser. Steen fell of his bike after being tased and the deputy ran him over, resulting in his death. The most egregious part is that Steen was not known to be of any threat to the officer.Another situation, in Escambia County, is the man who was shot at in his own driveway Sheriff’s deputies while trying to retrieve a cigarette out of his own car. These are just a couple elements in a pattern of behavior that bemoans the lack of training or leadership. Also, the employment of people, such as David Craig, Sheriff David Morgan’s Coordinator of Community Policing, whose misconduct as a certified officer with Sheriff’s office resulted in his law enforcement certification being revoked by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, gives the ECSO in particular, a questionable image. These few things tend to be an ingrained deterrent for incoming candidates. After all, who wants to be on a ship that appears to be sinking under the weight of its own hypocrisy?

The Sheriff’s department has gained the stigma based on the foundation it has built under David Morgan’s leadership. It is an “us vs them” mentality. Can anyone really be blamed for not wanting to be linked to the recurrent and consistent reputation the current department has? There is a saying-“Business goes where it is welcome. It stays when it is invited.” Is Escambia County doomed because justice is not welcome, nor invited? That may be a question to ask the Thirty-four percent of officer involved shooting victims’ families that did just what they were supposed to do.

19 Comments

  • Tom Martin says:

    The question is what constitutes “Furtive Movements” From what I am reading Merriam-Webster “done in a quite and secret way to to avoid being noticed.”

    Synonyms sneaky–shady–shifty–slippery–sly–sneaking–stealthy

    And let us not forget the law enforcement individuals that have been killed or injured in the line of duty

  • Eric Haines says:

    I made no such connection regarding education and use of force.

  • David Craig says:

    Criminally inclined? What the heck does that mean? Hmm I guess that lack of a criminal record disqualifies me for true criminal status. I spend all of my time at the ECSO building relationships and trust with the citizens and educating people on crime prevention techniques. As for the “other 34%” your deduction that they are “doing nothing” is pure fantasy. Many of them were shooting at the police, trying to run them over with vehicles and other acts which hardly can be defined as “doing nothing.” Perhaps you noticed that during the nationwide unrest, following the Ferguson death of Michael Brown, we had very little in the way of protest or discord here in Escambia County. I contend that the reason for that is the trust and confidence that people in our community have in area law enforcement.. That is a fact that brings pride to the men and women of area law enforcement who work hard to build that bond with the community. I’m not suggesting that we are perfect but the public has confidence that if there is a complaint against a deputy that it will be properly addressed. Victor Steen died during a pursuit by a PPD Officer, not a deputy. But what importance are facts when you are trying to do a hatchet job on a sheriff’s office? I note you misquoted Chief Haines as well. The other example you used failed to mention the preponderance of information that led the deputies to perceive a deadly threat. Sheriff Morgan has invited any interested parties to check the public record investigative documents on that case. No doubt, Mr. Staley, you neglected to check the facts there as well. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is not “quick to make a decision to draw and use a weapon.” Shootings by officers here are rare. That is another one of your fantasies paraded as fact. Sadly we have had more deputies shot by citizens in recent years than the converse. Finally on a personal note, I’m baffled as to why you’d think that my presence at the ECSO would be a deterrent to candidates seeking office? Our Community Services Unit, where I play a part, has a solid reputation for building a safer community and establishing a positive dialogue with anyone willing to communicate. That said you’ll be hard pressed to find a Sheriff that is more popular with the public or dedicated to serving than David Morgan. You are entitled to your opinion and it’s considered somewhat fair game to take pot shots at public officials. But you are not entitled to your own facts. Truth be told, your stated perspective is a hefty pile of false accusations. I invite you to attend our Citizens Law Enforcement Academy or Neighborhood Watch Academy. Broaden your horizons and your conclusions might take a different tack.

    • Mr. Craig, it is Mrs. Staley to you. I do apologize this is the rough draft of the article I actually submitted to Panhandle Politco. Please accept my apologies on the part about you. This is the correct version:

      Also, the employment of people, such as David Craig, Sheriff David Morgan’s Coordinator of Community Policing, whose misconduct as a certified officer with Sheriff’s office resulted in his law enforcement certification being revoked by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, gives the ECSO in particular, a questionable image. These few things tend to be an ingrained deterrent for incoming candidates. After all, who wants to be on a ship that appears to be sinking under the weight of its own hypocrisy?

      As for the Victor Steen comment this was the corrected version:
      There are stories like Victor Steen in 2009 who was tased on a bicycle by a pursuing Pensacola Policeman in a cruiser. Steen fell of his bike after being tased and the deputy ran him over, resulting in his death. The most egregious part is that Steen was not known to be of any threat to the officer.

      As far as Mr. Morgan’s popularity, please note I have people come out of the woodwork to tell me their experiences with Mr. Morgan and popular is not the word I would use to describe his actions. Asinine is probably a closer truth than popular.

      As far as the cigarette incident, please Mr. Craig, no one deserves to get fire upon in their own driveway more than 15 times. There just was no justification. One shot perhaps. But beyond that it just looks like the reasoning Barney Fife only got one bullet.

      PS. Mr. Haines please check your article in the PNJ by Kevin Robinson. You will see that he reported your statements yet you didn’t comment on them there.

  • Eric Haines says:

    From PNJ:
    “In reaction to a question about why law enforcement agencies aren’t more racially representative of the communities they serve, Haines and Alexander said public perception, budgeting and the local talent pool all play a role in recruiting officers.
    Haines said the $12.70 an hour that applicants make in the academy and the less than $17 an hour deputies can aspire to after two years isn’t much of a draw for qualified applicants.

    “We don’t pay enough to get college grads, let alone college graduates from out of this area,” he said.”

  • What part of this statement didn’t you say?

    Chief Deputy Eric Haines and Assistant Chief of Police David Alexander made comments that the budget and local talent pool for deputies and officers are factors in these shootings. Chief Deputy Haines says that cadets in the academy make only $12.70 an hour and deputies can only make up to $17 an hour after two years.

    My Commentary: These circumstances are not unusual to many law enforcement agencies, yet not all law enforcement agencies have reputation of being too quick to make the decision to draw and use a weapon.

  • Eric Haines says:

    I’ll repeat myself. I made no such connection regarding education and use of force. My comments were an answer to whether or not we were recruiting from minority colleges.

  • No, sir you didn’t. You said budgeting was a factor in recruiting. Overall that is an issue everywhere, minority or otherwise. My comments were not as to the minority representation although the reasoning on that seems very obvious when you look at the racial statistics of the most mishandled cases within your office. I was addressing the excuse of funding you provided which is simply flimsy at best.

    If it wasn’t a joke to work for David Morgan, I’m sure you would have less recruiting issues overall despite racial demographics.

  • David Craig says:

    Dear Mrs. Jimmie,

    Your historic revisionism might seem more credible if you didn’t jump so readily from one false allegation to the next. Were your lies a mistake I might consider accepting your apology. Sadly your “rough draft” alibi doesn’t seem credible when making allegations (now revised in your update) of criminality on my part. The revised version is no less libelous. When people have no argument that is believable they sometimes make up their own facts or resort to ad hominem attacks. You wallow in both. Your disrespect towards Sheriff Morgan is not helping to bolster your derisive arguments. In a dystopian community you might find an avid lemming-like following. Not here in Escambia County where our residents prefer a more open and honest relationship with their sheriff’s office. My invitation for you to attend our citizen academies at the ECSO still stands. Your apology is not accepted. Feel free to continue with your “thought crimes.”

  • Mr. Craig,
    It was a clear error in posting of the wrong version of the same article. But your inflated self righteousness is comical in lieu of the following:
    FDLE Database
    Name: Gary D. Craig
    Sex: Male
    Race: White
    Employment History: Escambia County Sheriff’s Office
    Class: Law Enforcement
    Type: Part Time
    Start Date: 12/11/1991
    Separation: (Separated on 8/13/1992) *****LESS THAN A YEAR*****
    Administrative-Unfavorable (Historical Use Only)
    Certificate: Revoked

    Would you care to elaborate on your short tenure as a deputy? I know why as well as the majority of people you are around on a daily basis. Would you like to backtrack your sanctimonious speech? You have in your own words arrogantly ratted yourself out in a Inweekly article that you fixed the first election, David Morgan won as Sheriff by saying, “We (David Morgan campaign) went into the election day knowing that we were going to win by 10 points or more,” David Craig interjects. The actual margin of victory was 13.4 percentage points, or 3,211 votes. In the 2004 Republican primary, McNesby beat Morgan by 34 points……“We wanted to bury this guy (McNesby) with the truth,” adds Craig.”

    Now being that there is no electoral aspect to local elections how on Earth did you know the margin of victory prior to the election? Would you like to comment on the fact it has been reported that people can smell the “weed” on you from a distance away? Or that you are just seen as the lowest common denominator in the city next to Morgan?

    Karma is funny thing don’t you think? Truth being the sword you claimed to wield against McNesby is the same sword I just slit your throat with. Funny how that works?

  • Mr. Craig,

    Also, so we are clear. You may refer to me as Mrs. Staley. I am the only child of honorable man. I am his namesake. I wear that name with pride. I am not sure where you come from but in Southern society, it is not proper to call me by my first name. Quite frankly, you have not earned the right to call me anything but Mrs. Staley.

  • David Craig says:

    I was a volunteer “Reserves” deputy and left to pursue full time reporting. I made no effort to keep my standards with any other agency and they simply lapsed. That said, there is no need to justify myself to your rantings. If you have any evidence of your drug allegations please make an IA complaint or report it to the PPD as I am a city resident. It’s no surprise that since you have fallen into the camp of the real GOB haters that you are parroting their anti-progress rhetoric. Your displeasure is obviously all about the inability of the a former office holder to gracefully accept defeat and the cabal of nasty personalities that orbit his sphere. You stated in your other blog that I had some “splainin” to do in reference to the false press releases I put out during the Billings investigation. Be advised that I never issued any Billings press releases. I am not a PIO. So let me recap your allegations over the past few days. 1. I’m a drug user. 2. I’m a criminal. 3. I was lying in press releases. Keep it up and I will seek a libel suit against you. I’m surprised that you would be so aggressive against a person that you consider to be either clairvoyant or able to influence exact election results. Oh yeah right. You got that one wrong as well. That IN Weekly interview was after the 2004 election. Fact checking seems beyond your inclination. I’m growing weary of your tactics. Squish one fable and 3 more pop up. Perhaps you should reconsider the veracity of your sources before writing yourself into litigation? The pen is mightier than the sword and your “new friends” are going to create problems for you while they hide in the shadows. Will they pay your legal bills?

  • David Craig says:

    Mrs. Staley,
    I took a closer look at the litany of personal attacks on your other blog. As to your allegation that I’m “invading the privacy of the residents of Pensacola.” My drone is an aerial camera that I use solely for outside video production. I am not “the communication director of the Sheriff’s department” as you allege. I never rode with the PPD for Blue Lights so it would be awfully hard for me to separate from them. I’m certain I’m not ‘enthralled with my own greatness’ as you intimate. Actually I’m kind of wondering what is your point in all this stuff you imagine (or are spoon fed) and put in print? I’m simply a mid level employee at the ECSO who is trying to make our community safer by sharing crime prevention information that I have learned. There is not one issue of community interest in your seemingly endless personal attacks. For now I think I’ve said my peace. You are very upset about something but I’m not sure that you truly know what that is. Please give it some thought before choosing to continue down this path. Thank you for your consideration. I’ll be praying for you.

  • Mr. Craig,
    You are neither clairvoyant or influential, you are crooked. As for the false allegations you claim I made about your drug use, please note in Santa Rosa Case number 571995DR002235DRAXMX there is a notation in the records about “purchase and use of marijuana”. Please be my guest on “fact-checking” that but I suppose you are too caught up in your own arrogance to get off your hind quarters to do that.

    As for my theory on the Billings case, this theory is based on the fact you have always been a kite for Mr. Morgan’s antics. He claims you do things like your slander campaign against Ron McNesby and working with Doug Underhill as your own “private” actions. You don’t see what a puppet you truly are for the great Sheriff Morgan. Also your own words in your website, claiming to be a crisis manager, who can ” In addition to video, internet and radio production we also offer services for political campaigns. Have a product, service or idea that you’d like to market? Call us for a free consultation. Have a crisis that you’d like to manage to it’s best possible conclusion? A political campaign that you’d like to see victorious?”

    Spinning a conspiracy based on a narrative that was wildly inaccurate with the facts of the case, seem to have been an effectual way of producing the “best possible conclusion” for a Sheriff who had been so sloppy in a the first major nationally covered case he ever worked. It covered up the fact there was no leadership and the entire mess could have been handled more aptly under a trained monkey than your fine Sheriff buddy.

    So please check your own facts Sir. You can’t even recall the truth on your own life, let alone defend legitimacy on anyone else’s behalf. You can take your litigation malarkey, smoke it with your next doobie. I am not worried about a piss ant like you.

  • My community interest is simply this: You and your Good Ole Boy are playing with people’s lives. You facilitated in the false incarceration of, at least, 3 men in this case. Maybe you should be the next name on the complaint being prepared on the behalf of Patrick Gonzalez for defrauding the state and misrepresentation of facts by the Sheriff’s office.

    Your FDLE certification was not a natural lapse. It was “unfavorably revoked”. I can get the full file from the state. It is, after all, public record. A natural lapse would have not been abruptly less than a year but more than 6 mos from its issuance.

    Your drone/camera was swooping down over the backyards of people in Aragon Court. I’m not sure you got permission from every house your spycam ran over but I’m sure with your “ethical” background if you haven’t violated someone’s privacy by now, it will only be a matter of time.

    As for your ever changing title, you claim to be a Public Information Officer in 2013 to WKRG in the following quote:
    “He is in serious condition. Two subjects are in custody at this time. The investigation is ongoing and the Florida department of law enforcement is looking into the matter,” said David Craig, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

    That would be a position where you would have access to release info (true or not) to the media on behalf of the Sheriff’s office and your crisis managament hat plays into the “truthiness” of your character. Slander ads are your specialty. That’s a very noble job especially coming from a stoner.

    Thank you for your prayers, but please note that you and I do not have the same Lord and Savior. Mine does not wear shiny medals and pat himself on the back while he spouts lies to the first available news camera like yours.

  • http://www.pnj.com/story/news/crime/2015/03/06/ecso-deputies-assault-arrests/24511867/

    Another reflection of Sheriff Morgan in his employees…..what a damn shame!
    More people hurt due to his men.

  • David Craig says:

    Mrs. Staley,

    I’ve been advised by counsel to inform you that you are making written statements about me that are demonstrably false. They are actionable in civil court. Govern yourself accordingly.

  • Mr. Craig,

    They are demonstrably true. If you want to prove to everyone how upstanding of an individual you are, turn over your emails to and from David Morgan from June 2009- September 2009? You have been stalling this action through the public records department. Let everyone see your transparency & if you rise to that challenge, Sir, I will leave and your reputation alone.

    Put up or shut up, Mr. Craig.

  • Karen Allen says:

    Holy crap on a cracker! I was told to night that they, who ever they are were tired of coming to my home on complaints.This A.M. I called because the people next door have their many dogs chained in their back yard which is right out side of my youngest son’s bedroom window, and my three bedroom windows. By the way I have college fines at 8am in this morning.These dogs bark all night long, every night. They said they were tired of coming to my home for complaints, and had a few more choice words for me. I said, well, I guess I will just have to shot the dogs (I don’t on a gun). But, that smart ass $7 an hour deputy said, well good that way we can finally put you in jail. This is in Century on Front Street. We own our home, the rest are here because some where down the line their families left them their home.. Century Florida needs to fund it’s own Police Department again!

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