CRESTVIEW — The Police Department and mayor’s office clung tightly to script Thursday in declining to release any more information about Police Chief Tony Taylor being placed on administrative leave.
Mayor David Cadle, who placed Taylor on leave, said his office was “looking into several issues” surrounding how the chief had followed certain regulations and protocols, and hinted that Taylor was entitled to due process.
“It’s very important that we follow the same protocol with every employee,” Cadle said.
Taylor referred questions about the mayor’s move to his attorney, Tiffany Cruz. Cruz was not available for comment.
The Police Department announced Thursday that Commander Jamie Grant, a Crestview officer since 1991, has been chosen to serve as acting chief of police. Deputy Police Chief Rick Brown and Commander Andrew Schneider are heading up Grant’s command staff, a news release said.
“The chief’s suspension has not led to any interruption in our service to the citizens of the county seat. Operations continue as usual, with officers on patrol and administrative staff on duty at the Police Department,” department spokesman Brian Hughes said in an email.
Hughes later amended his release to confirm that Taylor had not been suspended, but placed on paid administrative leave, as Cadle had previously stated.
Taylor was notified Wednesday that he was being placed on leave. He was asked to turn in his badge, his weapon and his department vehicle, as per policy, Cadle said. The mayor said Taylor was offered a ride home after being informed of Cadle’s decision, but opted instead to have his daughter pick him up.
Whatever it is Cadle is investigating it does not appear to be of a criminal nature. Officials at both the State Attorney’s Office and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said they had not been contacted by Crestview regarding Taylor.
Under the city charter, the mayor is solely responsible for administrative oversight of the Police Department. JB Whitten, president of the Crestview City Council, said Cadle has not spoken to him about issues involving Taylor.
“He is responsible for managing and investigating them, and has not shared the details of his investigation with me,” Whitten said.
Taylor, who worked for the Fort Walton Beach Police Department for 33 years before retiring in 2010, was hired by Cadle in 2012 to serve as Crestview’s police chief.
The hiring came when the Police Department and city government were engulfed in a scandal involving the previous chief, Brian Mitchell, and Joseph Floyd, a major who oversaw the city’s Street Crimes Unit.
Floyd was awaiting trial on racketeering charges. He was later convicted and sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.
Mitchell had been called out by a grand jury as the major’s enabler and accomplice. Floyd’s activities “were enabled and accomplished in part by the partiality and favoritism shown him by Chief Mitchell,” the grand jury said.
In 2014, Mitchell took a plea on charges he forged official documents to hire Floyd and agreed to permanently relinquish his police officer certification in the state of Florida.
Taylor also fired several officers who had violated policies or laws during the Mitchell and Floyd era.
In 2016 Cadle was effusive in his praise for Taylor in calling on the City Council to give the chief a pay raise. He credited Taylor for turning around a dispirited agency riddled with corruption and regaining the public's trust and support.
“I did not know what anyone could do to restore that agency," Cadle said at the time. “He exceeded my expectations in every way.”