CRESTVIEW – Mayor David Cadle said Thursday he hopes to wrap up an internal investigation of Police Chief Tony Taylor by the end of next week.
He said an announcement in the case will be made Friday, June 8, “if not before.”
Taylor, Crestview’s police chief since 2012, was placed on paid administrative leave May 9, but the Police Department and mayor, who oversees the city force, have said little about why.
Public records show that three other Crestview police officers — Cristina Dawson, Investigator Shawn Temple and K-9 officer Jay Seals — were placed on paid leave the day after Taylor was sent home. Cadle said Thursday he was not at liberty to say whether the personnel moves were related.
But an attorney representing Taylor and the other officers said the city’s actions were taken in retaliation for Taylor, Temple and Seals backing Dawson, who reported “discriminatory harassment” in the Police Department.
“An officer came to the chief alleging discriminatory harassment and the chief reported it to the mayor,” Tallahassee-based attorney Tiffany Cruz said. “Shortly afterward the mayor placed him on administrative leave.”
Temple and Seals “confirmed the complaint of the female officer (Dawson),” Cruz said, and “24 to 36 hours after the chief was placed on leave they were placed on leave.”
Cadle said shortly after announcing the action taken against Taylor that his office was “looking into several issues” regarding the chief and how he had followed certain city and/or department regulations and protocols.
The mayor declined again Thursday to discuss specific reasons for placing Taylor and the other officers on leave, but said “about 11 people” had been interviewed during the course of the investigation.
Cruz said none of her clients has been interviewed, and Taylor was not told why he was placed on leave. She said the other officers have been notified that they had committed policy violations, but received no specifics as to what policies were violated or how they were violated.
Taylor was not available for comment Thursday. Efforts to reach Dawson and Seals were not successful. No contact information could be found for Temple.
Taylor was placed on leave the day the city was scheduled to hold a law enforcement memorial service that he had been scheduled to co-host with the department's chaplain.
The memorial service was canceled on the Monday before it was to be held, but no one told Taylor, who was on vacation that day.
On Tuesday, May 8, it fell upon Taylor to notify fellow chiefs of police and other law enforcement dignitaries of the memorial service's cancellation.
“I sincerely apologize for the short notice, however, our Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony scheduled for tomorrow (May 9) was canceled yesterday in my absence without my knowledge or consent,” the email said.
Police Department spokesman Brian Hughes told the Daily News after Taylor was placed on leave that the cancellation of the memorial service and the disciplinary action had nothing to do with one another.
Hughes said the service was canceled to ensure that the Police Department had sufficient manpower to maintain a healthy law enforcement presence in the city. Hughes said a number of officers were also involved on the day of the memorial service with setting up for a Thursday open house at the Police Department.
Working on two events at once while keeping enough officers on the street “turned out to be a bit more problematic” than the department had expected, Hughes said.
Public records show that the committee putting together the memorial service had cited “a need for 25 or more employees to assist” at the event. The request to volunteer was sent May 3 to “all staff” by Kathy Duke, the Police Department’s critical systems manager.
The Police Department employs 61 people, including reserve and auxiliary officers, Hughes said.
Employees were notified of the suspension of Taylor’s duties on the afternoon of May 9 at a “general assembly of all staff,” Hughes said. Deputy Chief Rick Brown and Commanders Jamie Grant and Andrew Schneider made the announcement.
Grant, who has been with the police force since 1991, was named interim chief in Taylor’s absence.
Cadle said Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley “was incorrect” when he introduced Grant at a news conference held earlier this week as the Crestview chief of police.