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Jim Manfre will take office as Flagler County sheriff for his second go-around in January, but he said there’s a lot that needs to be accomplished before he gets sworn in on Jan. 8. And so, to get organized, he’s established his transition team.
That team comprises four retired law enforcement officers and three active members of the Sheriff’s Office.
When Manfre was elected sheriff in 2004, he didn’t have the opportunity to have a transition team. However, when current Sheriff Donald Fleming defeated Manfre in 2008, Manfre allowed Fleming to come in and establish a transition team to launch his administration during the lameduck period.
Fleming has returned the favor to Manfre. Manfre defeated Fleming in the Nov. 6 general election by 332 votes (50.05% to 49.36%).
Manfre said Wednesday in a phone interview that having the ability to form a transition team is important.
“When you become sheriff, you have no time to plan because you’re facing the daily issues you’re confronted with,” Manfre said. “I’ve dedicated the next six weeks to this so I have time to reflect on the information given, and we will have a plan of action from the minute I step into office. It gives me a head start, and it’s essential.”
The transition team will not be paid, Manfre said.
The four members are Dennis Creamer, Ray Stevens, Joe Rizzo and John R. Dance.
Creamer will head the transition team and has served at every level of law enforcement, from deputy up to major command, Manfre said. Creamer was a police chief in Daytona Beach.
Stevens, who also ran for Flagler County sheriff but didn’t make it through the August primary, will be tasked with organizing the detective division. Manfre said that’s a particular area that needs an upgrade, especially because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be cutting back its manpower due to budget cuts.
Joe Rizzo, a retired law enforcement officer with more than 33 years of experience in the New York Police Department, will evaluate courthouse security and the relationship with the clerk of courts office.
John Dance, a retired Florida Highway Patrol officer with more than 25 years of experience, will focus on the traffic unit and how it can become more effective as FHP cuts back on its manpower, Manfre said.
In addition, active members of the Sheriff’s Office who are a part of the transition team include Sgt. Michael Lutz, Cpl. Nate Koep and Deputy Steven Carr.
Lutz will be in charge of evaluating the community policing and Neighborhood Watch groups. Koep is involved because of his experience with supervision of the line deputies. Carr, one of the longest-serving deputies in the county, will focus on the Police Athletic League and the School Resource Officer program.
“The goal (of the transition team) is to make decisions based on information, and that’s one of the things that we tried with the present organization,” Manfre said.
Manfre said decisions on staff won’t be made until everything is analyzed.
“My skill set is to investigate and sort through information that is relevant to making decisions, and then base those decisions on facts and proof,” he said.