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New Carrabelle chief searches for cops

With a new police chief, Carrabelle is now setting about
replenishing its ranks, and has had to alter its rules to do so.

Kevin Shuman, 50, was hired in the spring to replace former
Chief Gary Hunnings. After starting his law enforcement career in 2006 as an auxiliary
officer, Shuman worked full time with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office from
2009 to 2017, and started with the Carrabelle Police Department in August

The department has been busy searching for two full-time
officers to join with full-time officers, Amber Peterson and John D’Ambrosio,
and part-time officers Doug Scarabin and Terry Martin.

City Administrator Courtney Dempsey said the chief plans to
propose to city commissioners at their next meeting that they hire Jacob Rieben, currently a
part-time officer, into one of the two vacant positions.

Earlier this summer, Shuman appealed to city commissioners
to alter their residency policy.

“Everybody knows were short-handed, in Carrabelle and in the
state of Florida and pretty much across the U.S., “ he said.

Shuman asked that the city reach outside of its existing
rule that staffers must live in the city or within a 15-mile radius. “Everybody knows this area is expensive to rent and live,”
he said.

He said Tallahassee has a 50-mile radius policy, Apalachicola
does not have an existing policy, the county requires officers to live
in-county, and Gulf has a policy that allows officers to live in a neighboring

Shuman said the change could bear on rules regarding taking government
vehicles outside of the city limits, and that a change to that rule as well would allow
quicker response time.

“It doesn’t say anything about taking vehicles home, the
only time 15 miles is mentioned is you must reside within 15 miles,” he said. “I’m
asking the commission to evaluate it and at least change to a 25-mile radius. Doing
it countywide would be best to attract more applicants to come to this area. We
could always go back and change it

“Part-time officers need to be able to take their vehicles
home so they can be ready,” he said.

Mayor Brenda La Paz supported the rule change. “This is not
a new phenomenon,” she said. “The chief is trying to reach out in different
ways to recruit and retain. By increasing the mileage range and allowing people
to take vehicles home, I think it will be beneficial. I think it will help us
in the long run.”

Disagreement with the change in policy came from Commissioner
Tony Millender. He said the current 15-mile radius is almost to Alligator Point,
north into Liberty County, and encompassing Eastpoint to the west.

“If we extended it 25 miles, we’re not going to pick up nothing
but the residential area of Apalachicola,” he said.

“From a perspective of the use of city government materials,
I’m really not in favor of extending the take-home (policy) with the vehicles,”
Millender said. “For the sake of concern and the prospect of possibly having
one applicant (from Apalachicola), I would be agreeable to extending the mileage
to the place they live, but not for extending the use of the government vehicle.

“To hire, we’re competing with the city of Apalachicola police
department, and if we hire someone who wants to work in Carrabelle, our police
vehicle could be at the sheriff’s office and they could drive their personal
vehicle to the sheriff’s office and then drive it to their duty station here in
Carrabelle,” he said.

“We just don’t have the local people in the city limits or
just outside the city limits,” said La Paz. “We sometimes have to change policies.
It’s a living document, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a forever thing.

“My main concern is that people will think that we’re
opening a can of worms, and then all employees will want to drive their vehicles
home.,” she said. “The city can’t afford the wear and tear of their vehicles like that.”

Millender said he didn’t recall a part-time officer
ever being called into action during an emergency, other than for a foreseen
matter, like a hurricane.

The commissioners voted unanimously to extend the residency requirement from 15 miles to within the county.

The commissioners also voted in favor of allowing a
take-home policy within the county for full-time officers, and it passed as
well, with Millender opposed.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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