CRESTVIEW — A scandal that started at the top of the Crestview Police Department and ran through its Street Crimes Unit was uncovered in 2012.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation that one source said stretched over two years resulted in a grand jury indictment of Maj. Joseph Floyd in March and the firing of Police Chief Brian Mitchell in April.
Floyd was arrested and charged with racketeering March 5, the day the indictment was handed down.
His attorney, Barry Beroset, said he is “still working on discovery” and has asked that Floyd’s scheduled trial in January be postponed.
The state attorney’s office, which is prosecuting Floyd, did not object, Beroset said.
He said a March trial date appears likely.
Floyd’s indictment states he used his position as head of the Street Crimes Unit to operate a criminal enterprise in which he threatened, harassed and physically abused his officers, city residents and criminal suspects.
The abuse included soliciting sexual acts from female officers and residents, forcing subordinates to falsify reports and using excessive force on nonresistant police detainees, the indictment said.
It also accused Floyd of misappropriate use of police department equipment, conducting covert surveillance on city employees and lying on the resume he turned in to get his job.
Floyd has denied any wrongdoing.
Crestview Mayor David Cadle, who suspended Floyd and Mitchell on March 1, waited until April 17 to fire the police chief.
Cadle said he made the decision to fire Mitchell “in order to restore the trust of the citizens of Crestview” in its police department.
A few weeks later the grand jury findings on Mitchell, which had been withheld from publication while he appealed their contents, were revealed.
From their scathing comments it was clear the grand jurors found Mitchell at least complicit in the criminal enterprise they were convinced Floyd had operated.
Floyd’s activities “were enabled and accomplished in part by the partiality and favoritism shown him by Chief Mitchell,” the report said. He “failed to perform his duty and withheld information about substantial instances of misconduct, and even criminal activity.”
Grand jurors found Mitchell failed to report Floyd’s misdeeds to Cadle, who oversees the police department.
It said Mitchell ordered officers with complaints against Floyd “to go through the chain of command,” which meant bringing them first to Floyd.
Jurors said Mitchell failed to take action on several occasions when sexual harassment charges were leveled against Floyd.
It said his failure to act on Floyd’s “offensive and humiliating conduct toward women and co-workers is indefensible.”
It noted that Mitchell hired Floyd despite Floyd having an arrest record and a long history of disciplinary problems as a law enforcement officer.
“The Chief of Police and Floyd were friends and colleagues for years,” the report said. “Chief Mitchell was fully aware of Floyd’s questionable background when he hired him.”
Cadle initiated a search for a new police chief following Mitchell’s firing, but before that could even get under way police Investigator Tim White was fired for tampering with evidence and perjury.
White, who worked in the Street Crimes Unit with Floyd and was under direct supervision of Sgt. Matt Purvines, told investigators he had stolen marijuana from the department’s evidence room and used it to bolster a request for a search warrant.
White said Purvines had told him to steal the pot from the evidence room. Purvines denied the accusation and still works for the department.
Cadle announced Sept. 25 that he had hired long-time Fort Walton Beach police officer Tony Taylor to succeed Mitchell.
Taylor said he soon will announce his plan to institute programs to “change the agency culture” in Crestview.
“We’re going to do things like seek accreditation and develop a whole new policy manual,” he said.
Taylor said he intends to review investigation records and “see what information comes out of the Floyd trial” before determining whether “residual” changes have to be made as a result of the scandal.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Tom McLaughlin at 850-315-4435 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMnwfdn.