CRESTVIEW — Crestview Mayor David Cadle announced Friday that he has dismissed city Police Chief Tony Taylor.
Taylor was fired following an investigation into allegations of “favoritism, rule inconsistency and unfavorable shift scheduling,” a news release issued at noon Friday said.
The allegations, which came from more than 30 of the 61 police officers and agency administrative staff employed by the Police Department, “combined to lead to a reported decrease in morale within the department,” the report said.
“As my investigation progressed, it became evident that an atmosphere of misconduct without consequences as well as favoritism by some officers had been allowed to flourish at the Crestview Police Department,” the release quoted Cadle as saying. “This is a reflection of a failure of diligent oversight and responsive leadership which has led me to dismiss Tony Taylor as chief of police.”
Taylor confirmed he met with Cadle for approximately five minutes Friday and received the news of his termination. He referred all other questions about the firing to his attorney, Tiffany Cruz.
Three Crestview police officers placed on paid leave the day after Taylor was sent home – Christina Dawson, Inv. Shawn Temple and K-9 officer Jay Seals – remain employed but off duty, according to Crestview Police Department spokesman Brian Hughes. Cadle said he expects to put the finishing touches on his investigation early next week.
He said the report compiled as part of his investigation will be made public within the next week.
Cruz, who represents not only Taylor, but also Dawson, Temple and Seals, alleges all four of her clients have been victimized for reporting “discriminatory harassment” within the ranks of the Police Department. On Friday she said she expects legal action to be filed against the city on behalf of her clients and "a Whistle blower component" will be a part of complaint.
Cruz said Dawson, Temple and Seals were not interviewed as part of the city investigation.
Cadle said in his release that Taylor has denied the allegations made against him and taken issue with the contention that low morale was an issue within the Police Department.
“He also stated these complaints were the fault of a conspiracy to remove him from office,” the release said.
Commander Jamie Grant, a 27-year agency veteran, has been chosen to serve as interim police chief, Cadle said. Grant had been appointed to lead the police force shortly after Taylor was placed on administrative leave May 10.
Cadle said he had not spoken to Grant about assuming the chief's post full-time and no decision has been made about how the city will proceed in filling the job. A second key administrative position will open up at the end of this month when Deputy Chief Rick Brown retires, Cadle said.
Taylor was hired as chief of police in Crestview in 2012 following the firing of Brian Mitchell. Mitchell had been implicated by a grand jury for letting his second-in-command, Joseph Floyd, run amok.
As Taylor was settling into the chief's job, the State Attorney’s Office was preparing to try Floyd on charges he ran a criminal enterprise from within the Police Department. Many of the agency’s officers were involved in the court proceedings that ultimately concluded with Floyd being convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Mitchell later plead no contest to official misconduct charges.
“My tasks are just beginning,” Taylor said after the Floyd verdict was announced. “We’re putting a bad chapter behind us and looking forward to a new beginning.”
Cadle said in his news release that deciding to investigate Taylor was “a painful decision” given all the chief had done to pull the Crestview Police Department from the morass it found itself in as a result of the Mitchell/Floyd scandal.
“Police Department employees are members of a team working together with the primary purpose of serving the community,” Cadle’s release said. “Individuals, no matter their rank, who fail to follow the rules and regulations, policies and procedures governing their conduct do a disservice to all other employees of the department and to the community.”