Content on a website linked to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy, including obscene language and a description of how to break out of handcuffs, initially alarmed Sheriff Rick Wells. But the site has not been found to violate any department policies.
An internal affairs inquiry last month concluded the website’s content may be “shocking and disrespectful,” but no action was taken against Deputy Scott Milford, who is listed on a registration page as the site’s administrator.
While there seems to be no doubt that the website is linked to Milford, Wells noted on Wednesday that the deputy never identifies himself or the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office on the site.
“He has the First Amendment right to voice his opinion,” Wells said. “I don’t agree the way he goes about it ... but he is not doing anything to this point to discredit law enforcing or this agency.”
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A call to the phone number listed on the website’s registration went unanswered on Wednesday.
The inquiry was launched after the sheriff’s office received a complaint about the site, uncensoredtactical.com, from a person who asked to remain anonymous.
“You have a deputy that hosts a podcast and a website where he espouses some pretty shocking content,” the complainant wrote. “My 11-year-old is fascinated with law enforcement and listens to a lot of podcasts and I had the chance to overhear one of them.”
Milford is listed at Register.com as the administrator of the website.
The internal affairs inquiry into the complaint was closed Feb. 20, concluding that while the “content and tone can be considered shocking and disrespectful,” it appeared that measures were taken to “mask any connection to a specific agency,” a sheriff’s office memo states.
The sheriff’s office was unable to verify the website’s registration, according to the memo.
Under the section of the sheriff’s office’s general orders that deals with use of social media, deputies have the right to express themselves as long as their speech does not “impair working relationships of this agency for which loyalty and confidentiality are important, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, or negatively affect the public perception of the agency.”
While some of Milford’s opinions on officer safety training presented on the website may be unorthodox, they do not violate any polices, the sheriff added.
“We will investigate if we are informed that policies are violated,” Wells said. “We haven't found that yet.”
The general orders also require a deputy’s speech on social media to abide by the sheriff’s office’s code of conduct, which prohibits obscene or sexually explicit language.
The website, which lists its founder as a Pat Watson, aims to “promote smart tactics, we question the standard, we call out BS when we see it, we offer an Urban Survival Course for Military/LEO/Civilians, and we hope to create a community of like minded individuals.”
The complaint cites several “alarming” comments made on the website:
- “(B)ecause someone wears a badge does not make them an automatic hero. Because a police officer dies does not make them a defacto hero either.”
- “Some people have a ‘punchable face’ or that voice like nails on a chalkboard.”
- “I believe you can tattoo your face and join in unholy matrimony as an interracial gay couple and burn the American flag in your front yard.”
The website features many posts explaining how locks can be picked or how to get out of handcuffs, the latter of which Wells said he found alarming.
Milford, who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County in June 2004, joined the sheriff’s office in August 2014 after being honorably discharged from active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, according to his personnel file. He was recalled for duty in April 2016 and returned to the sheriff’s office in April 2017. Most recently, Milford was recalled for duty in May 2017 and has since been on military leave from the sheriff’s office, but his service records show he is currently on a reserve medical hold.
The website lists 11 reasons defending why the writer posts the content that he does, including there is nothing proprietary about the information posted; agencies and companies are failing employees by not sharing best practices; the information is already available online; and there is nothing illegal about what is being taught.
The page concludes with this defense:
“I am very OK with what and how I teach. That being said, I will be making an effort to be very clear about how and why I teach, as well as the fact that anything learned on this site is to be used by the viewer at his own discretion and risk and that I assume zero (expletive) responsibility for anyone that decides to not act like an adult. ... Teaching is my passion. Helping people prepare themselves with better security is also my passion, for both professionals.”