CHIPLEY, FL. (AP) - The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Thursday that five members of its staff, Sergeant William Finch, Sergeant James Perkins, Sergeant Robert Miller, Sergeant Christopher Christmas, and Sergeant Dalton Riley, were arrested by the Office of Inspector General for charges of felony battery on an inmate, and a sixth staff member, Captain James Kirkland, was arrested with additional charges of official misconduct.
The staff worked at Northwest Florida Reception Center in Chipley. All six have been dismissed from DOC as a result of their actions.
Secretary Mike Crews says, "These arrests and terminations send a very clear message: we have zero tolerance for criminal activity by our staff. I expect everyone to do what is right and I have restated my commitment to hold those who do not to meet our expectations accountable for their wrongdoing. Our staff should be held to the highest standards, and those who fail to do the right thing will no longer work for this agency. As I have emphasized to our staff in my meetings around the state, we will not let the bad actions of a few undermine our culture of professionalism and tarnish the reputations of all the hard working men and women in our Department."
Secretary Crews and Deputy Secretary Tim Cannon met Thursday with the command staff at Northwest Florida Reception Northwest Florida Reception Center in Chipley on Center as part of Crews' commitment to personally visit every Department of Corrections institution to emphasize his expectations for transparency, accountability and professionalism.
Last week, DOC announced a strict zero-tolerance policy for employee misconduct. DOC employees who commit a criminal act will immediately be placed on administrative leave and the Department will initiate disciplinary action for their dismissal.