News Pensacola Politics

Peacock Disputes FOP’s Statement

October 26, 2012

Downtown Improvement Board member John Peacock is disputing the local police union’s version of a Gallery Night incident it brought before the Pensacola City Council last night. For starters, he said he did not refer to officers as ‘terrorists.’

“Did I use the word ‘terrorists?’ Yes. Was it directed at police? No,” Peacock said today.

During last night’s council meeting, members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 71, requested an investigation into Mayor Ashton Hayward’s actions during the Oct. 19 Gallery Night in downtown. The FOP told the council that the mayor misused his position and intimidated officers when they tried to reopen the streets at 9 p.m.; the union said that Peacock also spoke with an officer and told her the police’s methods—lights, loudspeakers—made them look like ‘terrorists.’

Peacock said today that he told the officer that the scene resembled that of a terrorist-attack aftermath.

“It looked like something really bad happened,” he said. “Like a terrorist attack happened. It just looked chaotic.”

Previous Gallery Nights have lasted until midnight, with roads left closed to vehicular traffic. Those late hours were dependent on local businesses footing the bill for police presence. For the Oct. 19 event, no business was paying for the extended hours and the DIB scheduled it to end at 9 p.m.

City of Pensacola Spokesman Derek Cosson said today that there was “a lot of confusion” regarding the time change.

“The mayor was not aware that the street was shutting down earlier,” he said. “So, we had a little breakdown in communication.”

Peacock said he had learned in an email from Kim Kaminski, of the city’s Neighborhood Services department, that World of Beer had agreed to fund the extended hours. It surprised him when police told him they had directions to clear the streets at 9 p.m.

“Ashton had just called me a minute ago,” Peacock recalled. “I said, ‘Ashton, what the hell’s going on?’”

Later, Peacock said he learned from the management at World of Beer that the business was hoping that other establishments would also contribute to the $3,000 that was needed to extend the hours. When they didn’t, neither did World of Beer.

“So, that email was not accurate,” Peacock said.

The recent DIB appointee said that, while there was a miscommunication issue, there had also been a need to intervene with the officers clearing of the street. He said “sometimes you have to get involved to stop something that’s gotten out of control.”

“The interesting thing is, while they’re throwing Ashton and me under the bus, there are times when leaders have to get involved because circumstances are different,” Peacock said. “There was obviously tons of miscommunication and people were just following orders, but sometimes orders have to be changed due to circumstances.”

Cosson said that Mayor Hayward may issue a statement regarding the issue later today. City Council decided last night to gather more information—to “hear both sides of the story”—and consider the appropriateness of an investigation at the Nov. 13 Committee of the Whole meeting.

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  • Steve K October 29, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Happy to say that Pensacola is only going to be my summer vacation home soon. Incidents like these keep the city from growing into a vibrant and a place that attracts younger tourists.

    Key West, New Orleans, Destin, and other areas do not seem to have the same problems that Pensacola does. Can we not get anything right?

    If the mayor asks a city employee to jump, the correct response should be how high.

  • Fishy October 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

    It was very obvious to those in attendance at the October DIB meeting that the nomination of Davis by Peacock was not mere happenstance or whimsy.

  • pay up October 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Peacock was only recently appointed to DIB and his first meeting as a board member was the October meeting. Needless to say he quickly went to work by nominating his pal Corbett Davis as chair. Most new board members spend a few meetings observing and getting their feet on the ground.

  • Jabrone October 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    No sirens. You couldn’t make out what the officers were saying from my vantage outside World of Beer. It should not be possible to have different ending times for Gallery Night. Whoever allowed for that possibility should own up to the mistake. Why does it feel like whatever’s going on between PPD and the mayor will be the end of Gallery Night?

  • John October 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Exactly how does a recent appointee of the DIB not know with any certainty what time the streets were to open? How is it that the person in charge of Gallery Night and all of the police officers knew what time the streets were to open and Peacock did not? Public officials (and board appointees) should stick to policy making and government business and let the police department do their job.

  • jeeperman October 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    PPD supervisor in charge of security for Gallery Night Leon Martin also states the:
    “At NO time did officers ever use “multiple sirens” or any sirens at all.”

    That is a very bold statement in this age of nearly everyone having video capabilities via their cell phones. As well as cruiser cams recording the actions.
    Perhaps it is a true statement. However, several citizens in attendance are claiming sirens were blaring.

    So were sirens used or not ?

  • joe October 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I too found Mr. Martin’s post on the daily’s website informative.

    Had Mr Peacock consumed a bit too much to remember the timing of Gallery night’s ending and his role as a community volunteer to facilitate the DIB sponsored function operating efficiently.

    I wasn’t in attendance though I believe a daily poster who wrote “there were too many people at 9pm for the sidewalks to handle” Accordingly people in a position to know the proper operations, Mr. Peacock presumably one) should have assisted, not hindered the men in blue.

    Aside from a few highly vocal naysayers, the community has been extremely loyal and flexible with Mr. Hayward and his decisions. I feel sure they would understand and many expect the Mayor to say “My mistake, I’ll work on it not happening again”

    Incidentally, can someone cite one instance when the Mayor has taken responsibility for or admitting to a mistake?

    Just curious….

  • Leroy Carter October 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    After watching Peacock at the Council of the Whole meeding when they were discussing his nomination his attitude said it all. They were lacking some information and were discussing it and he stands there flashing his drivers license with his hugh ego on display for all to see. It does not surprise me Hayward and him are friends. Birds of a feather.

  • What a Joke October 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I find it odd that the Mayor would call Mr. Peacock rather than Chip Simmons, the Chief of Police. The comments on the PNJ site are interesting — particularly those of PPD Officer Leon Martin who met with the DIB (with Mr. Peacock in attendance) & explained what would happen with a 9 p.m. reopening of the street. Mr. Peacock had no right to interfere in police operations. I’m also appalled that the Mayor has not met with the officers involved & resolved this issue.

  • joe October 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Interesting that Mr. Peacock was the first of the two to make a statement. The Mayor is consiering issuing a statement (code for, he’s waiting for Mr. Asmar and Mr. Messer to see if they have time to prepare one for Mr. Cosson).
    The Mayor should be careful to not lose the support of the public services union members. They stick together and turn out to vote. The seemingly unstable Mrs. Deweese may start to garner some support from them.