Sheriff calls bronze statue of predecessor ‘waste of money’ – that cost taxpayers $75,000


ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FL – After having served as the Escambia County Sheriff for 12 years, David Morgan wrapped up his third term in 2020 and since then, current Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons found out that his predecessor commissioned a life-size bronze statue of himself – at the cost of $75,000 in taxpayer money.

The new sheriff in town, however, says that this “waste of money” isn’t going up in front of the sheriff’s office, as former Sheriff Morgan had apparently planned.

Earlier in August, it was found that former Sheriff Morgan had spent $75,000 in taxpayer money before leaving office in December of 2020 to commission two life-size bronze statues, one of himself and another of a former sheriff’s office lieutenant beside a K9.

The payments were made to a New York-based company called Randolph Rose Collection Design Studio, which obtained records showed that former Sheriff Morgan submitted photos of himself in full dress uniform saluting and of that a former sheriff’s lieutenant standing next to their K9 German Shepherd.

The order for these bronze statues were made back in April of 2020, where former Sheriff Morgan paid for these out of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office general fund account and intended for these statues to be placed in front of the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Simmons says that he has “no intention” to have the former sheriff’s likeness cast in a bronze statue standing outside of the sheriff’s office:

“I have no intention of putting the statue of the former sheriff in front of this building or anywhere in this building.”

The new sheriff stated that he tried to cancel the payments for these statues after assuming office but was apparently too late. Overall, he finds idea of someone creating a statue of themselves to be a bit narcissistic:

“You don’t typically make a statue of yourself, and have the taxpayers pay for it. I think it’s a bit of a waste of money. That’s why I tried to cancel it whenever I first found it. I think it’s a bit brash. I think it has an air of narcissist to it.”

Apparently, locals in the county also see the crafted statue as a waste of money. One local, Bobby Spaeth, said the following about the matter:

“After learning that it was taken from the County money from the sheriff itself, I think that’s a little excessive.”

Another local, Marquita Woodroof, called the former sheriff’s action “irresponsible”:

“He was irresponsible. He was our sheriff for so long so he’s knows what’s going on in our County and for him to do something like that is just selfish. The money is spent and that’s just what it is. It’s wasted.”

The statue depicting the former sheriff’s lieutenant and K9 are generic enough, Sheriff Simmons says, that he may very well display them outside the sheriff’s office. But as for former Sheriff Morgan’s statue, Sheriff Simmons is considering to just have it melted down:

“Maybe we can melt it down and make use of it. But at this point that statue is not going to be erected here at the Escambia Co. Sheriff’s Office.”

According to reports, former Sheriff Morgan has come forward saying that he will personally cover the costs of the statue of himself – $37,500 – following the backlash from the community over the matter.

In an email sent to WEAR-TV Channel 3, former Sheriff Morgan wrote the following about why the statues were commissioned at the time:

“The statues were part of a general upgrade to the grounds of the ECSO. We also built an employee break area, fences, etc., as part of the project. The statues were to be placed by the Fallen Officer Memorial. This is a common practice at other sheriff offices, and at the FL Sheriff’s Association in Tallahassee.”

“But to assuage everyone’s concerns, I’ll be writing a check to cover the cost of ‘my statue, ‘ for $37,500.”

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Gov. DeSantis announces signing bonuses, scholarship program to recruit more cops in Florida

(Originally published August 19th, 2021)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – During a conference that was hosted by the National Fraternal Order of Police, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly announced a series of new policy proposals which would be presented at the upcoming legislative session that would help recruit new law enforcement officers and help support state and local law enforcement agencies.

On August 17th at the FOP’s 2021 Biennial National Conference & Expo, Governor DeSantis detailed three upcoming proposals to help attract and retain new law enforcement officers within the state of Florida.

Those proposals included new officer sign-on bonuses, relocation support for out-of-state officers coming to Florida, and an academy scholarship program.

While speaking at the conference, Governor DeSantis stated the following about the effort:

“As so many cities and states choose to disrespect, degrade and defund the honorable work of law enforcement, we want Florida to continue valuing our men and women of law enforcement today, tomorrow and for generations to come.”

“That’s why today, I am proud to announce new initiatives to recruit and reward brave, high quality law enforcement officers in Florida that I will be including in my legislative priorities for our upcoming legislative session, including $5,000 signing bonuses.”

The signing bonus of $5,000 would be afforded to newly hired law enforcement officers who’ve never previously served as a sworn law enforcement officer, corrections officer, or other institutional security officer within the state of Florida.

Additionally, the signing bonus will need to be repaid to the state if the officer leaves their role before completing at least one year of service.

The academy scholarship program will reportedly function on a first come, first serve basis, with the Department of Education created program offering additional resources to law enforcement academy enrollees.

Said program would benefit two types of academy trainees.

The first being students who are unable to attain other state financial assistance through a state college or technical center law enforcement program, with the scholarship covering tuition and fees for the program at a state college or technical center.

The second beneficiary type would be students who are attending a private academy, with the scholarship covering costs up to what’s deemed as the average tuition and fees associated public law enforcement training programs.

As for the relocation support for out-of-state officers coming to Florida, this effort would afford incoming officers moving to Florida the opportunity to take the State Officer Certification Exam free of charge.

Furthermore, the state will also cover up to $1,000 in costs associated with any required Equivalency Training Programs.

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Previously deported illegal immigrant arrested for assaulting Florida trooper, leading police on a chase

(Originally published August 22nd, 2021)

ORANGE COUNTY, FL – An 18-year-old illegal immigrant was arrested in Florida earlier in August after allegedly crashing his vehicle and then getting into a physical altercation with a Florida Highway Patrol trooper. According to reports, the suspect was previously deported three years earlier.

On August 17th at approximately 5:45 a.m., a Florida Highway Patrol trooper had arrived at the scene of a single vehicle crash that transpired on the westbound lanes of SR 528 at around mile marker 25.

The vehicle, reportedly driven by 18-year-old Audain Perez-Vasquez, was located in the tree line and when the trooper approached the driver. Authorities say that when the trooper approached the driver, a physical altercation ensued which led to the suspect then fleeing into the woods after the alleged assault.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers then set up a perimeter and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office deployed their K9 units and a helicopter to assist in locating the suspect.

At approximately 12:00 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that the suspect was apprehended off of SR 528, alleging that Perez-Vasquez attempted to steal a golf cart from a residence in the area while trying to flee.

Perez-Vasquez was located after a K9 found him hiding under some bushes and bit him. The suspect was subsequently treated at an area hospital for the sustained dog bite.

Officials say that the suspect has since been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. It was also noted that the suspect is an illegal immigrant who was deported from the country when he was 15-years-old.

The officer was reportedly treated for their injuries sustained during the altercation. Officials have not released the identity of the officer injured, but noted that the injuries were minor in nature. 

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