Crestview's police chief says his department needs its own space.
CRESTVIEW — Former Okaloosa County Commissioner Dave Parisot has made it known he doesn’t think highly of a Crestview Police Department proposal to buy land for a firing range.
The department revealed its intentions earlier this week in a news story written by agency spokesman Brian Hughes.
In a letter to Crestview Mayor David Cadle, Parisot questioned Chief Tony Taylor’s rationale for asking taxpayers to pay for a range when the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office maintains one a few hundred feet outside the city limits. Parisot was on the County Commission in 2013 when the board agreed to buy the property for a range on Grimes Avenue west of town.
“Having two tax-funded firing ranges in such close proximity seems like a waste of money to me,” Parisot said in his letter.
Parisot asked the mayor if there were “burnt bridges or pissing contests” that prevent Crestview police from using the county-owned firing range. Taylor and Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley were political rivals in 2010 and 2012 as both men sought the sheriff’s seat.
Taylor reacted with strong language to Parisot’s implication that his department might have a beef with the Sheriff’s Office.
“I am compelled to address Mr. Parisot’s implications regarding the relationship between the Crestview Police Department and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department; or respective administrators,” Taylor wrote in his own letter to Cadle, which he turned in Wednesday.
“It concerns me that anyone believes there are ‘pissing contests’ or 'burnt bridges’ in this regard,” Taylor stated.
The chief assured Cadle that “to the best of my knowledge” the city Police Department and county Sheriff’s Office “enjoy a healthy and cohesive working relationship.”
The Grimes Avenue firing range is and always has been available to the Crestview Police Department, Taylor stated in his letter.
County Administrator John Hofstad said no police agency has ever come to him with concerns about being denied training time at the Sheriff’s Office range.
In his letter to the mayor, Taylor cited his agency’s need for a firing range of its own.
“The Sheriff’s Department range is available to literally hundreds of officers for training and qualification. The availability of the range to so many agencies is what has created the necessity for our own firing range,” he stated.
“It is difficult to secure range time in consideration of our training schedules, the Sheriff’s Department schedules and the training schedules of every other law enforcement agency and correctional agency in the county,” Taylor wrote, adding that his department “exceeds established standards for firearm proficiency” and requires sufficient training time to stay sharp.
“It is imperative that our law enforcement officers maintain a tactical and proficient posture to ensure the highest level of protection for our citizens, and the officers themselves,” Taylor stated.
The Sheriff's Office said in a statement that it is up to the Crestview Police Department to determine training frequency and whether its needs can be served with the scheduling limitations at the Grimes Avenue firing range.