NSBNews.net photos and video / Embattled Oak Hill Police Chief Diane Young and Sgt. Manny Perez were just one example of the infighting and corruption allegations that led to the demise of the Oak Hill police force last month.
OAK HILL The Volusia County Council unanimously approved an agreement Thursday with Oak Hill to contract out the city’s law enforcement services to the Sheriff’s Office. The contract covers a 13-month period, through September of next year.
The council's action follows the Oak Hill City Commission’s decision on Aug. 1, to disband its municipal police department. The Sheriff’s Office immediately stepped in to begin patrolling Oak Hill while city leaders decided what they wanted to do in the long-term. On Aug. 22, the City Commission agreed to execute a contract with the Sheriff’s Office.
And Thursday’s action by the County Council to ratify the contract finalized the deal. Under the terms of the contract, the Sheriff’s Office is providing around-the-clock law enforcement service with a total of four patrol deputies. The city also will receive all of the Sheriff’s Office’s ancillary law enforcement services, such as investigations, crime scene, legal, personnel, records, dispatch and evidence collection.
The cost to the city for the 13-month agreement is $501,057, about the same as Oak Hill was paying annually for its eight-member force.
Oak Hill now joins three other cities -- Deltona, DeBary and Pierson -- that also contract with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. The former municipal police force under embattled Police Chief Diane Young had been rocked by scandal during her year-and-a-half tenure with two sergeants on back-to-back suspensions and infighting between the chief that also led to the outright firing of City Clerk/Administrator Laura Goodearly, who had a prior DUI conviction.
At least one former police officer has also questioned the integrity of City Commissioner Ron Engele, the architect behind the dismissal of the entire police force, while he himself had been accused of "standing up drunk" at an intersection during a storm and barking orders at the chief and two officers.
Oak Hill Commissioner Ron Engele threatens NSBNews.net during a meeting in March and has the website's editror removed. At the next commission meeting, Mayor Mary Lee Cook apologized for his illegal action while Engelee was a no show.
Young, herself, had battled public perception credibilities because she was initially named acting police chief, even though she had admitted on her job application seven years earlier that she had snorted cocaine at least a hundred times and smoked marijuana during the mid-'80s. It was also revealed later that she popped quaaludes.
Among the allegations levied on Young was that even after trying to convince everyone that she had put her drug past behind her, she had a friendship with ex-con Hank Watson. Young acknowledged giving him a job mowing her the lawn at her Titusville home, but denied his statements to cops and others in the community that they had an intimate relationship.
There was also an 11th-hour deal struck between Young and then-Sgt. Manny Perez for him to return to work after sitting out for four months with full pay fighting allegations of stealing gas from the city pump and doctoring the paperwork, after he agreed to drop serious allegations of impropriety lodged by him against the chief, including claims of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
And there was jousting between Mayor Mary Lee Cook and Young's role in going behind her back to the Sheriff's Office and reporting that there were marijuana plants growing on her property earlier in the summer. The Sheriff's Office disposed of the pot plants and did not bring charges against anyone with the 84-year-old mayor vehemently denying ownership.
NSBNews.net broke the story last December and stayed with it all alone, uncovering a floodgate of corruption, chaos and infighting that ultimately led to the vote. As the commission took action, print newspapers and TV media piggybacked on the story. NSBNews.net ran two simultaneous ongoing investigative reports: "Oak Hill: Cocaine, Corruption and Chaos" and "Oak Hill's Dirty Little Secrets."