Pensacola, FL – Former Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan doled out approximately $75,000 in taxpayer dollars to commission a life-sized bronze statue of himself and second statute of a K9 deputy before he left office, according to the new sheriff.
The six-foot, four-inch statue of former Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan showed up at the sheriff’s office last week, current Sheriff Chip Simmons told the Pensacola News Journal.
Sheriff Simmons referred to the bronze statue of his predecessor as a “brash narcissistic waste.”
“You don’t make a statue of yourself,” Sheriff Simmons told the Pensacola News Journal. “And you don’t use tax dollars to do it.”
The second statue was created in the likeness of Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) Lieutenant Jason Potts, who led the agency’s K9 unit prior to his recent retirement.
Morgan claimed he ordered the bronzes two years ago, but said delivery was delayed because of the pandemic, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
But documents and receipts for the commissioned works show then-Sheriff Morgan signed off on an agreement with Randolph Rose Collection Design Studio on April 20, 2020, according to the paper.
“Good to go!” he jotted next to the date, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
Morgan told the paper he and then-Lt. Potts posed for 360-degree photos that were subsequently used to create the bronzes.
He said he planned to put them out in front of the ECSO’s front entry as part of a fallen law enforcement officers memorial.
“It’s a likeness of me,” Morgan told the Pensacola News Journal. “I was the sheriff at the time.”
#UPDATE Fmr. Sheriff Morgan tells me he plans to write a check to cover the cost of the statue, for $37,500.
— Carolyn Cerda (@CarolynCerdaTV) August 19, 2021
“I think people may be wanting to make more of this than it really is,” he added. “It’s just a statue of me saluting the men and women of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the first responders that died on active duty. It’s that simple.”
Morgan said that bronze statutes are very common.
“Go to the Florida Sheriff’s Association. They have several of them out front,” he told the Pensacola News Journal. “They’re depicting deputies and sheriffs and first responders.”
The Florida Sheriff’s Association said its statues are all generic and that they are not paid for with taxpayer dollars, WGXA reported.
Sheriff Simmons said the taxpayer-funded bronzes the former sheriff commissioned are much different than the “generic,” non-modeled statutes he was considering purchasing for the same memorial, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
As he was looking into the idea, Sheriff Simmons learned about the bronzes Morgan had purchased.
“As soon as I found the paperwork, I instructed (ECSO risk manager) Marcus Faulkner to call the company and see if they could cancel this,” Sheriff Simmons told the Pensacola News Journal. “I instructed him to find out if the company could melt it down, make a bench out of it or if there was something that we could do with it.”
But by then, the bronzes were already completed.
The company did agree to remove the name tags on the statues that identified who they were modeled after, Sheriff Simmons noted.
The statue of Lt. Potts can possibly still be used somewhere on the ECSO campus.
“With the name off it, that statue can pass as a generic statue of a deputy,” Sheriff Simmons told the Pensacola News Journal.
But the bronze of former-Sheriff Morgan bears too many identifying markers, including his U.S. Air Force medals and “Escambia County Sheriff” arm patches.
“It is clearly him,” Sheriff Simmons said. “I have no words for this, but I have zero intention of placing this thing in front of our building.”
The sheriff said he has contacted various local companies to discuss the possibility of melting the bronze down into something the ECSO can actually use, but said he hasn’t had much luck so far, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
Morgan seemed befuddled that anyone would consider the statue to be “newsworthy,” and reiterated it has been common practice at many law enforcement agencies, WEAR reported.
“But to assuage everyone’s concerns, I’ll be writing a check to cover the cost of ‘my statue, ‘ for $37,500,” the former sheriff told the news outlet.
The payment was received last week, Sheriff Simmons confirmed to WKRG.
The ECSO said it the check from Morgan will be given to the county and that the sheriff’s office will keep the bronze statue, WEAR reported.
Morgan was at the helm of the ECSO for 12 years, according to WGXA.