Transcript of interview with Former Sheriff David Morgan

We’ll write a check to the general fund for the sheriff’s office. Then tomorrow, you can talk about something else.

David Morgan appeared on NewsTalk 1370 WCOA this morning. I asked him to explain his statue.

“Well, we were redoing the sheriff’s office grounds. There were planned upgrades for the employee break area. We put in fences, we put in some cookers and was also planning to redo the memorial,” said Morgan.

“And so our protocol officer had traveled some and we were going to replicate what we saw both at the Florida Sheriff’s Association and also other sheriff’s departments where there were bronze likenesses or statues that you would be saluting the fallen officers and the current men and women that are serving.

And so the idea was to replicate that here at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. And so we had the money, and actually the News Journal as always got it wrong. It was not $75,000 for me. It was like $37.5 for the statue of the sheriff and then $37.5 for the K-9 officer and his K-9. So it was $37.5 and $37.5. It wasn’t $75,000 for just the statue of me.”

The former sheriff joked that that a vote was held to determine whose likeness would be used – “And it came down to Andy Marlette at the News Journal and me.”

“I won and so I said, ‘What the hell, go on and make the statue of me.’ So that’s what it came down to,” said Morgan.

“The sad part of this is like you said–oh, this is the news. With COVID and Kabul and everything else going on, this is the news. Must’ve been a slow news day yesterday. But anyway, you and the folks will be happy to know that I’m going to write a check to the county today for $37.5 ($37,500) to pay for the statute.”

Morgan said the only call he got about the statue was from the daily newspaper.

“The sad part of this, Rick, is I didn’t get a call from anybody except the News Journal to ask me, ‘Okay, we got statues down here, Sheriff. What do you want us to do with these things?'”

“And I would have explained to everybody very calmly, as I just explained to you, that this was part of the upgrade project around the sheriff’s office. And if you’re offended by the fact that the statue was a likeness of me, well, okay, change the face. I could care less. It was about an homage to our first responders and the men and women that
I served with for 12 years.

But governance by ambush, that’s kind of the rule in Escambia County. That’s Chapter 1 of how to lead in Escambia County. We never call the question. We don’t pick up the phone and call somebody and say, ‘Hey, what’s up with this? We’d like your take.’ And that’s how this goes. So it’s just another day in Escambia County.”

He added, “We’ll write a check to the general fund for the sheriff’s office. Then tomorrow you can talk about something else.”

Other sheriffs in Florida have done similar statues.

“At the Florida Sheriff’s Association, actually, they have several bronze statues out front,” said Morgan. “And again, this is one of those things, Rick, in hindsight, was it a good thing to do? Well, who knows? It was just something that we did to honor the men and women, but we want to personalize this in Escambia County.

He continued, “We always look for the negative. We never look for the positive. And so again, I’ll make your story go away. I’m going to write a check today. So what are you going to talk about tomorrow?”

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2 thoughts on “Transcript of interview with Former Sheriff David Morgan

  1. “‘There were planned upgrades for the employee break area. We put in fences, we put in some cookers and was also planning to redo the memorial,’ said Morgan.” Fair enough. If there was a real plan to “redo the memorial” then there must be a plan from the FY19/20 budget request cycle era that will show the plan and its projected cost. Then, there is probably a document that shows a request from the Sheriff to the BOCC for a certain amount of dollars to “redo the memorial.” We are told that “General Fund” dollars were used to buy the statutes. Someone needs to check to see which Account Code is associated with the purchase order. General Fund dollars are used for regular operations. This type of project seems more in the category of a Capital Improvement Project. The one Account Code that I would have thought most appropriate is 56301 described as “Improvements Other Than Buildings.” In FY19/20, the Sheriff did not request any dollars and the BOCC did not approve any for Account Code 56301. The Sheriff’s Capital Improvement’s Projects list does include an Account Code 56201 described as “Buildings.” That might be close enough for government work. It was funded in FY19/20 in the amount of $888,167. The proposed budget broadly describes the expenditure as “Sheriff Facilities.” State law (Section 30.49 Budgets) requires Sheriff’s to submit their budgets to the BOCC at what is described as “the subobject code level.” Section 30.49 uses the directive word “shall” 26 times making clear that a Sheriff has to comply with some specific budgeting rules. If part of the $888,167 was going to be used to “redo the memorial,” and that might have been very appropriate, you would have expected to at least see mention of something like “Sheriff Memorial Improvement” in the Sheriff’s FY19/20 budget submission. Yes/No? The county’s chief budget officer should be able to clear this all up in a few minutes.

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