Tension Between Sheriff's Office and County Commissioners

There appears to be some lingering bitterness between the Bay County Sheriff's Office and Bay County commissioners over budget cuts.

Last month Sheriff Frank McKeithen told commissioners they'd have to hire deputies to provide security for the Haunted Hayride at Harder's Park. The county instead hired Florida Highway Patrol troopers instead. Commissioners exchanged several emails with Sheriff's Office employees regarding the decision to hire state troopers, but the dispute took a hostile tone on some of the employees' Facebook pages.

Letters between the two organizations tell two very different tales. Commissioners say the Sheriff's Office wasn't interested in providing security for this year's Haunted Hayride. But Sheriff's Officials claim the county didn't give them enough advance notice and they were already committed to too many other events. Things turned ugly after employees vented their frustrations on Facebook.

Some wrote they are “positive the county can live without commissioners, but not without law enforcement,” others wrote former sheriff and current commissioner Guy Tunnell had no place lecturing them on leadership. Some suggested Tunnell forgo his salary, so the county can hire off duty deputies.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen stepped in with an email sent to all employees saying that they were “concentrating way too much on messages concerning personal feelings that stem from recent distasteful politics” and suggesting that they “cease and desist our comments and responses.”

Neither McKeithen or any of the commissioners wanted to comment on any of the incidents, but commissioners admit there is tension between the two organizations since the commission cut McKeithen's budget by more than $700,000


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