Walton County Sheriff Ralph Johnson admits meeting with DeFuniak Springs city manager Kim Tresnell earlier this month.
Johnson says he told Tresnell in passing that the Sheriff's Office could provide a cheaper and better service to the people of DeFuniak Springs than the Police Department, but during Friday's news conference, Johnson refused to comment on DeFuniak Springs Police Chief Michael Adkinson’s claims that Johnson wants to take get rid of the city's department.
"We called this to explain we answer calls in the city, and nothing else is important," said Walton County Sheriff Ralph Johnson.
Johnson says his deputies are constantly providing backup to the city's understaffed police department.
Adkinson admits the Sheriff's Office helps him out, but he says his department is becoming less reliant on their assistance.
"Now we're better staffed than in the last 20/25 years. Now we're at better staffing level and we're improving everyday," said DeFuniak Springs Police Chief Michael Adkinson.
In papers obtained through a freedom information request, the Sheriff's Office is critical of Adkinson's staffing assignments. Johnson claims the city only has one officer working from midnight till 6:00.
"What he was saying was is that an officer should not have to go into a dangerous situation by himself because of the decision of someone else," said Walton County Sheriff Capt. Danny Glidewell.
Adkinson denies he's putting his officers in danger, and says he'd be happy to discuss it if Johnson would return his calls.
"The door is open. I would say to Sheriff Johnson now feel free to call me and I will clear my schedule," said Chief Adkinson.
Sheriff Ralph Johnson admits he's never spoken personally with Chief Adkinson about the situation, but says he has made his deputies available to the chief.
It's important to note Chief Adkinson is an elected official under the DeFuniak Springs city charter, so he can't simply be fired.