CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Police Department's newest command staff member brings more than 30 years of law enforcement experience with him.
Lt. Richard "Rick" Brown, a U.S. Army veteran, fills the internal affairs officer position that became vacant with Lt. Kent Buckner's death last fall.
"I'm here for two things," Brown said. "I'm here to make sure the citizens of Crestview receive fair police protection, and I'm here to make sure the officers aren't falsely accused of misconduct."
Brown said Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor hired him "because I don't know anyone" in the department. "I'm held to a higher standard because of it," Brown said.
Brown said he shares Taylor's goal to increase Crestview officers' salaries.
"There's no one going to come to this department and work for $28,000 a year when they can go to the sheriff's office for $30 or $32," Brown said. "Sometimes, we're just a training ground" for other law enforcement agencies.
Taylor recruited Brown out of retirement following the latter's career with the Fort Walton Beach Police Department and the Walton County Sheriff's Office.
The officers served on the Fort Walton Beach Police Department together, occasionally alternating roles as the other's supervisor.
Brown's positions included patrol officer, criminal investigator, motorcycle traffic officer and patrol squad supervisor.
"Lt. Brown has amassed extensive experience in some of the initiatives we will be undertaking at the Crestview Police Department, chiefly among them, accreditation," Taylor stated in a press release.
"He also has extensive knowledge of our new written directives, having assisted me in the past in the implementation of similar policies and procedures (in Fort Walton Beach)," Taylor said
Brown believes Mayor David Cadle, who oversees public safety, and the City Council back the initiative because an accredited police department is better able to attract federal law enforcement grants.
Taylor, sensitive to alleged improprieties in hiring a command staff officer by his predecessor, said that once Brown accepted his offer, the process was out of his hands.
"An extensive and comprehensive background investigation was done," Taylor said. "I had no part in it."
The investigation complied with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, statutory and administrative code requirements, the release stated.
Brown said he is excited about his new career in Crestview and glad to be out of retirement and back in uniform.
"You can only mow the grass so long," he said. "When this job isn't fun anymore, then I'll get out of it. I think I'll be here awhile."