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Sheriff Hunter: He Wants To Bust Up the Combined 911 Call Center (Part III)

911 Combined Communications Director Tom Brazil (left), Sheriff Mark Hunter (right). Mr. Brazil said the Sheriff was not out of the loop and had received everything he asked for.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  The Combined 911 Communications Center workshop began with Chairman Murphy introducing the afternoon's topic of discussion and inviting both Sheriff Hunter and 911 Combined Communications Director Tom Brazil to come to the front of the room.

Commissioner Murphy explained, "The purpose of this workshop is to openly discuss and try to set us forth a direction on the possibilities of the Sheriff takin' over his dispatch for the Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement."

Chairman Murphy invited the Sheriff and 911 Combined Communications Director Tom Brazil to come forward and be prepared to "enlighten us on what you've got goin' there."

Sheriff Hunter kicked off the discussion, "This workshop has been a long time comin'." Sheriff Hunter asked himself the question, "What instate do we want out of this? And I think that the instate is, 'What's best for the citizens of Columbia County.'"

(definition: instate: set up in position, install or establish)

Sheriff Hunter then walked back his widely understood goal to take over all of dispatch, mapping, and 911 communications. "I'm not looking to take over dispatch. I'm looking at having oversight on the law enforcement dispatch services that service the Sheriff's office," he said.

Sheriff Hunter explained that in the beginning there were some things agreed to "whenever all of this was put together as a combined system." Over the years of tryin' to work it there's been some different directions and some miscommunication... You all assume that things are being taken care of because that's what you're told... I feel like I am at a disadvantage, but I'll let Mr. Brazil do his presentation -- his comments, and we can go from there."

Sheriff Hunter Tried to Hijack the Meeting

Sheriff Hunter tried to take over the meeting. It wasn't clear who was going to present what. Chairman Murphy wanted the Sheriff to make his presentation. Murphy reined him in and told the Sheriff to proceed.

Sheriff Hunter Told the County 5

Sheriff Hunter said, "The only thing that I'm lookin' to have is oversight over the law enforcement dispatch at 911. It's ironic sometimes how all of the things come together... I'm at a disadvantage here because each one of you commissioners went out to 911 all week, this week, and met with Mr. Brazil and met with the County Manager and Assistant County Manager and listened to all theirs. I didn't have that opportunity to sit down with each one of you all. I'm responsible for 911 statutorily and through the SCIC-NCIC, I'm responsible for the security of the 911 room."

Learn more about the National Crime Information Center.
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States' central database for tracking crime-related information. The NCIC has been an information sharing tool since 1967. It is maintained by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is interlinked with federal, tribal, state, and local agencies and offices

He continued, "Is it laid out in black and white? No. I don't want to get into all the finger pointin' and all that..., but there are some things I would like to see. That whenever I ask for things to be done it has to go through a litany of bureaucracy and it gets put to the back. So, I want to have a little more oversight over what goes on with our dispatchers."

"There's a lot of things that go on. I feel like the Sheriff's Office is left out of the loop. And I would ask you this question: 'If the roles were reversed and you have the responsibility for that Center (the 911 Call Center) and you didn't feel like you were getting the service that you needed, you'd be doin' the same thing I'm doin'. Is that correct?"

There was a long pause.

Commissioner Nash was the only one that responded, "Correct."

In the Mind of the Sheriff, "Perception is reality."

Sheriff Hunter claimed, "There's a lot of decision making going on that I'm not in the loop. Whether it's perceived or whether it's real, perception is reality. All I asked is, 'Keep us as a part of it. We don't need in our dispatch center a them and an us attitude.'"

Sheriff Hunter then suggested breaking away from 911 and setting up an independent Sheriff only dispatch.

The Sheriff Sees Spies At the Call Center

The Sheriff said, "It was also mentioned, 'Why don't you just put one of your people out there as a supervisor.' Well, then that becomes a spy. And you all know how that works... "

Sheriff Hunter also complained that his IT people and the County IT people were "supposed to be working together." "We are not included in that," he said.

More Complaints and Sour Grapes

The Sheriff complained about commissioners going out to the 911 Center and the time 911 management spent with them. He commented, "If they (911 management) spent as much time as they did this last week or the last two weeks of preppin' for this -- tryin' to get ready so that they can keep the 911... If they fought this hard to try and make this work with the Sheriff's office, we wouldn't be havin' this conversation."

Commissioner DePratter: He Took Exception

Commissioner DePratter asked, "What do you mean by that? If something's not right and we get educated?"

Sheriff Hunter answered, "No."

Commissioner DePratter followed up, "That's what you just said, Sheriff. You just said, 'It wasn't right that we went out there.'"

The Sheriff cut him off, "I did not say it was not right."

Commissioner DePratter said, "There is no disadvantage."

Sheriff Hunter (getting agitated), "Let me ask you this. How would this have gone over? We're gonna' have a work shop. I want to have briefins' with the commissioners... I'm out here ostracized. Out here at a disadvantage."

Commissioner Nash said, "A lot of effort was taken. I went out there for an hour. I also met with you for an hour."

Part IV: The Sheriff Wants to Build a Wall: coming Monday

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