The seemingly star-crossed Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Personnel Standards and Review Board will not meet this week as planned.
A hearing for former county deputy Jonathan Bush, scheduled to run Tuesday and Wednesday, was cancelled due to an emergency, according to Jeff McInnis, the attorney for the board.
“The chairman has got an emergency he has to deal with, unavoidable,” McInnis said.
Bush was the first of three deputies who were fired in 2010 by Sheriff Larry Ashley scheduled to have the case for their termination heard before the board, which was reconstituted in 2015 by order of Circuit Court Judge John Brown.
The Bush hearing will be pushed back to the week of Jan. 22 and will be heard the same week that hearings for Rick Hord and John Lee, the two other officers not retained by Ashley at the start of his career as sheriff, are held, McInnis said.
The Sheriff's Office Personnel Standards and Review Board was created by a special act of the Florida Legislature in 1981. It was established for the sake of hearing grievances filed within the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The board was little used during the terms of sheriffs Larry Gilbert and Charlie Morris.
Ashley discovered the enacting legislation shortly after he’d failed to retain the deputies in 2010. He enlisted the help of then-state Rep. Matt Gaetz to have it repealed during the 2011 legislative session.
But after Bush, Hord and Lee filed a suit against Ashley in the wake of their terminations, Brown ruled that the personnel board was technically still in existence when the deputies were let go. He said it would be proper for the three deputies to have their grievances against the sheriff aired before their cases went to court.
Gilbert is serving as chairman of the Standards and Review Board. Former Property Appraiser Pete Smith and former School Superintendent Alexis Tibbetts serve on the board along with Charlie Boseman and James Wells.