Two additional officers were hired for the Bonifay Police Department after approval from the Bonifay City Council when they met in regular session of June 12.
Bonifay Police Chief Jimmy Macon recommended Michael Antunovic and Zachary Neitsch for officer positions and saw the hiring of the two in a 3-2 split decision.
“You all interviewed these two candidates before I came on board,” Macon said. “I did a re-interview and a thorough background check on both. I know that one had some issues in the past, but talking to his last three agencies they all said the same thing. He is a good officer, he just needs proper training and good supervision. I feel with the command staff that I have now and with myself as a leader, the run and gun is over with. We aren’t going to go out and tear up city vehicles, we aren’t going to harass people, we are going to help people. With that being said, I feel like this young man needs a second chance and under my leadership we can make him that officer the other chiefs said he could be.”
Macon went on to say there is a one-year probationary period for each new hire and that if he doesn’t feel like they will not be able to do the job, he will advise the board sooner rather than later.
Council member Shelley Carroll made the motion and Mayor Emily McCann passed the gavel to give the second. With Councilmen James Sellers and Larry Cook voting against the measure, the deciding vote came down to Councilwoman Sierra Smith.
“I feel very conflicted about this personally,” said Smith. “But, Chief Macon, I support you and I am fully on board with you. I trust your leadership, so I trust that it will not take you a year if you feel like either one of these candidates given their previous employment and the issues they’ve had, that they don’t live up to the standards that our citizens deserve, I am trusting that you will make that decision immediately. This will not affect our citizens or anybody else. This is a tough decision, but I am going to vote, yes.”
Macon assured the council and the citizens of the new BPD.
“The old BPD is gone,” said Macon. “We are starting from the foundation and building up. I am going to give the citizens of Bonifay what they deserve.”
During last month’s council meeting Retired Florida Highway Patrolman Johnny Whitaker was hired for the full-time officer position but went on to turn down the job. Macon was charged with choosing his second in command. Macon chose to split that position into two by appointing Chuck White as a Captain over patrol and Betty Sims as Lieutenant over investigations. Bonifay Police Department is expected to pick up operations from Holmes County Sheriff’s Office on June 19.
Mayor McCann brought the issue of flat rates and usage rates before the council asking to review the accounts that are under a flat rate, such as Holmes Correctional Institution.
“HCI is under a flat rate of $44,375.10 per month which leaves us absorbing more than $80,000 than we should,” said McCann. “I do not understand how we came to the decision for them to be on a flat rate or for any customers to be on a flat rate. In six months, we have lost a full-time position with fringe in what we have absorbed in usage. I would like to have a conversation on how to get every flat rate user on a usage plan like everyone else.”
The council agreed there would be further discussions on how to bring this proposal to fruition.
In other business, McCann asked for the council to vote on a partnership with the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners for several matters. The first being a request to move the Bonifay Police Department into the old HCSO building once the move is made to the new facility.
“We are looking to grow, and the old sheriff’s office would be a great fit for our needs.” said McCann.
The council will also be looking into taking back ownership of the rec center from the county if funding sources can be determined and if the switch back will not affect the $3 million in grant funding for the refurbishment of the building.
The Bonifay City Council will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m. on June 26.