After a long history of tension between the two departments, the Florida Highway Patrol has done some house cleaning in the district that serves the hometown of Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey.
FHP Capt. Mike Burroughs, who was the commander of the Quincy district, and who wrote a scathing memo about Harvey and his department, has been transferred to a Tallahassee headquarters job, where he serves as assistant chief investigator for the northern region.
Two other officers who served under Burroughs, Lt. Patrick Murphy and Sgt. Johnny Haire, have also been reassigned.
"With the sheriff's office and the Patrol, it's important for us to have good working professional relationships," Col. John Czernis, director of the FHP, said Tuesday. "We need to convey to the people of Florida, and in this case, the people of Wakulla County, that we're working together and looking out for their best interests."
Czernis stressed the men were merely reassigned and not being punished or demoted. However, he acknowledged that the memo was a factor.
"That would be foolish to say the memo had nothing to do with it," Czernis said. "The memo was one of many factors that I took into consideration."
The transfers came after a meeting last week between Harvey and top FHP commanders. But Czernis said Harvey did not request the transfers.
"The moves were not made at the request of the sheriff. That was my ultimate decision," he said.
Czernis would not let the transferred officers speak to a reporter.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association declined to comment.
Harvey did not respond to a request for an interview.
Burroughs, who took command of the Quincy district almost a year ago, wrote that historic tensions between the two departments worsened in November, when Harvey defeated former trooper Charlie Creel by 48 votes.
Harvey released a subsequent statement saying the relationship worsened after his department arrested Trooper Charlie Odom on a charge of sexual battery. Odom is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he pulled over Jan. 28 for speeding.
The transfers also follow Harvey's conviction on a second degree misdemeanor charge following a Feb. 20 hit-and-run crash. Harvey hit an occupied car and then drove to his home to report the incident to his own agency.
A public outcry resulted in an investigation by State Attorney Willie Meggs, who found that Harvey had been drinking that night at a country club and later at a restaurant, but that witnesses said he was not impaired. Harvey was ultimately sentenced to three months of administrative probation and ordered not to drink. He also had to issue apologies to the victims and the citizens of Wakulla County.
Angry citizens asked Gov. Charlie Crist to order an FDLE investigation, but Crist declined, saying that justice had already been served.
Critics say the transfers demonstrate that Crist is more sympathetic to Harvey, a nine-term incumbent who is a political powerhouse in the county.
But Crist denied Thursday that Harvey asked him to remove the troopers.