Sheriff-elect Jim Manfre appointed Rick Staly last week as the next undersheriff for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. The two will take office in January.
Staly, who has 38 years of experience in law enforcement and public safety, identified three priorities for his tenure in office: increasing community policing, implementing more employee training and taking a business-minded approach to the Sheriff’s Office’s budget.
He held his last undersheriff position in Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando. During his tenure, the city’s population grew by 300,000. Violent crime decreased by 15% in that same period, and property crime decreased by 10%, Staly said.
“In the last decades, Flagler Count’s population went up, but crime went up, too, and that’s unacceptable,” Staly said. “The responsibility of law enforcement is to do crime reduction, not to accept the status quo.”
Although Flagler County already has a community policing program, Staly said the difference between his approach and current Sheriff Donald Fleming’s is of philosophy.
“The difference with Sheriff-elect Manfre’s and my philosophy is that community policing is not a program; it’s a crime enforcement policy,” Staly said, adding that he envisions a Sheriff’s Office that works in partnership with the community.
Specifically, Staly said this will involve looking at the causes crime and working with the community to attack them.
“Basically, you’re looking at what’s driving crime, and many times, it’s not what’s on the surface,” Staly said. “It’s what’s below. It’s kids who don’t have a place to be or anything to do late at night. The parks are closed, so where do they go?”
To remedy this, Staly said he would suggest creating a midnight basketball league. This approach, he said, can stop crime before it happens.
Staly said he also wants to be sure that all Sheriff’s Office employees are given continuing training to be sure that they are updated from everything to first aid training to crime scene investigation.
Interviews conducted by Manfre’s transitional team have indicated that some Sheriff’s Office employees could use more training, Staly said, adding that he and Manfre hope to add training in ethics for employees, which is not currently given. With his appointment, Staly will join Manfre’s transitional team as a volunteer.
Staly’s third focus as he prepares to assume his new office is financial. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had the lowest cost of a police operation for the ten largest police agencies in Florida while Staly was undersheriff, he said.
The office decreased its budget by being creative, Staly said. One year, the department had 26 motorcycles, from 1 to 4 years old, which needed to be sold and replaced.
An employee suggested that the motorcycles be sold at auction instead of traded, as was customary. The Sheriff’s Office brought in $280,000 from its auction — $30,000 more than was needed to fund new vehicles.
The next year, the office did the same thing. This time, because all of the motorcycles were just a year old, the Sheriff’s Office was able to purchase new motorcycles with a $110,000 surplus.
After he retired as undersheriff in Orange County, Staly and his wife opened their own security company, which employed 128 officers. The company recently merged with United American Security.
So now, Staly, who has lived in Palm Coast for the last six years, is ready for something new.
“I don’t think you can ever get law enforcement out of your blood once you’re in it,” Staly said. “I’ve always liked a challenge.”
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