Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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Police Commander, CEO, President and King

Every once in awhile you come across a story that is full of so many signs of incompetence or corruption that you really do not know where to start. And so it is with this epic. Or should we call it a comedy of errors.

By the end of this article we hope to expose how there are two separate sets of laws which operate here in Seminole County Florida. And how our laws are treated when one of the Protected Class is involved. The subject of this story concerns a man who wears many hats and titles. Some of these titles are official while others describe how this person is treated.

The title of “king” seems fitting because as in a society which has a King, well the laws do not apply to the King. As for those of us who pay taxes, own private businesses and do not derive their sustenance off of the labor of the tax payer, we are thought of by this Class as peons.

Our story begins with an article titled, "Investigator: Charge Dale With 6 gun–range felonies" which appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on October 30, 2007.(1) Since Larry Dale is still a Law Enforcement Officer, with the title of Commander of the Sanford Airport Police, something must have happened concerning the three counts of aggravated assault firearm as well as three counts of false imprisonment.

In order to get the facts the official documents were obtained from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Included in these records were the Original Incident Report # 07-33228, (2) and the sworn statement of victim #1, Jerry Autry (3) both dated September 26, 2007. Also obtained were the Supplemental Report from the assigned Investigator, J.R. Mathis. (4) The final document was the 7th Judicial Circuit 798 Charging Affidavit dated October 3, 2007. (5)

What the documents do not reveal is who two of these victims are. Mr. Autry is a National Rifle Association Range Safety Officer and his son was and is an active duty combat soldier who was home on leave from a tour of duty. The third victim was the girlfriend of Mr. Autry’s son. On September 9, 2007, these three victims would be exposed to an incident which would demonstrate to them our Class System which operates in Seminole County Florida.

As with every story there are at least two sides, and often three. To begin with we will look into this incident from the position of Mr. Dale and using his own words and try to make sense of his actions. Since there are changes in Mr. Dales version as to what took place on that day we will present his accounts as they were presented.

On September 26, 2007, seventeen days after the incident occurred, it was first reported to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO) by victim #1, Jerry Autry Sr.(2)

On September 27, 2007 the incident was assigned to Investigator James R. Mathis for investigation.(4)

On or about September 27-28, 2007, Inv. Mathis makes telephone contact with Victim #2, Jerry Autry Jr. and Victim #3, Toni Columbia. No sworn statements are obtained from either of these victims.

After interviewing Autry Jr. and Columbia, Inv. Mathis attempts to contact the suspect which was identified as Larry Alvin Dale a Police Commander with the Sanford Airport Police Department, who also holds the title of CEO of the Sanford Airport Authority (SAA).

Now here beings the special treatment of the Protected Class. Remember Mr. Dale was the subject of a criminal investigation for six felony counts. One of the first rules of an investigator is to control your environment and your suspect. If you make a phone call it is to contact the suspect and “TELL” him to meet you at your department or a nearby Police or Sheriff’s Department. You see the idea is to place your suspect under control showing them that you are in charge. And you want to get the truth and if he lies then you can charge them with the crime of lying to a police officer or obstruction of justice and/or interfering. Remember the Casey Anthony case and what she was found guilty of. You have a hard time proving this charge when speaking to someone over the phone.

But it gets even better. When Inv. Mathis attempts to contact the suspect, Larry Alvin Dale, he is advised by Dales’ secretary “that he is unavailable”. Dale returns the call at a later time. During this initial contact,

"Larry Dale advised Investigator Mathis that he knew why Investigator Mathis was calling, and he began to explain. Larry Dale stated He was shooting skeet with Darrell Mcclain, and his daughter Danielle Dale when they observed a car come through the gate. Larry Dale stated he observed the vehicle travel down the road and stop, and a few minutes after he heard a lot of shots being fired from their location. Larry Dale stated he became concerned because the subjects were shooting across open land without a backstop. Larry Dale stated he believed he had witnessed a felony, armed trespassing. Larry Dale stated he went to investigate and made contact with the three subjects. Larry Dale stated he never pulled a gun, or a taser on anyone."

Let us examine this first story and see if everything adds up. By his own words, Dale stated that he went to investigate the suspected armed trespassing of three individuals. So what does he do? Does he use a cell phone or police radio to request the VCSO to investigate the armed felony? NO . Does he have his eleven year old daughter and civilian, Darrell McClain take cover? NO. Larry Dale then has his daughter and Mr. Mcclain enter his marked Sanford Airport Vehicle and then he approaches the three armed adults with the emergency lights activated. The report does not give any detail as to the manner that Dale confronted the three armed individuals or what took place between the time that he approached them and the point in time when a conversation took place between himself and Autry Sr.

Now we come to the second story of Dale. On Saturday, September 29, 2007, after Inv. Mathis conducts an interview on the phone with Larry Dales daughter, Larry Dale then provided additional information to Inv. Mathis. It was at this time that,

"Larry Dale stated that he was the property owner’s agent, and he reiterated that he believed he was witnessing an armed trespass, and that is why he took action."

Yet again we witness special treatment of the Protected Class. Here we have a trained investigator conducting yet another telephone interview of a witness to a suspected felony crime in which the witness is the daughter of the suspect under investigation. The interesting thing about her statement is that she advised,

"They finished shooting a round of skeet, and went down there. Larry Dale told the people to put their guns down, he then patted them down to ensure they did not have any weapons. Larry Dale asked them what their names were, and they told him. Danielle Dale stated that the subjects cooperated very well, and Larry Dale never unsnapped his holster, or pull a gun."

Why in the world would a sworn written statement not be obtained from this witness? Why would this witness not be interviewed away from her father? And once again we are to believe that three armed individuals dropped their weapons on the ground by the mere verbal requests of Larry Dale without any display of his firearm or even his unsnapping his holster. So we are to believe that a trained Police Officer approaches three armed subjects that he (Dale) believes are committing armed trespassing and that he approaches them without even unsnapping the firearm that he is carrying. Oh well, the Protected Class has said it so, it must be true.

Now before we get to Larry Dales third story it is important to note that the other witness to this incident is also contacted by Inv. Mathis and interviewed on the phone. The other passenger in the Sanford Airport Police vehicle was identified as former Seminole County Commissioner Darrell Mclain who is a close friend and neighbor of Larry Dale. This name might seem familiar to some due to the fact that he was a Commissioner who approved a land lease deal for Larry Dale. (See Boars Nest Article). During this interview,

"Darrell Mclain said they stopped what he and Larry were doing and they rode down to where the subjects were. Darrell Mclain said that Larry Dale told the three subjects to put their weapons down, and raise their hands. Larry Dale then asked the three subjects what they were doing, and they told him target practicing. Darrell Mclain stated that Larry Dale never pulled his weapon out of the holster."

Once again there are facts which are not covered in this interview. Where the emergency lights activated? What body position did Larry Dale take when he approached these three armed subjects? What words compelled three adults to "put their weapons down"? Did Larry Dale unsnap his holster? What commands did Larry Dale make? What were the details connected with Dale “patting down” these three suspected felons? Some of these questions will be answered by the victims themselves and from the only sworn statement provided in this investigation by Mr. Autry Sr.

Now a lot of you may not understand that there are specific laws which regulate Law Enforcement Officers in Florida that must be complied with when any law enforcement officer is under investigation and when a complaint is filed with any other Law Enforcement Agency. The statute which governs the mandatory reporting to the employing agency within five days is FSS 112.533(b)1.:(5)

"Any political subdivision that initiates or receives a complaint against a law enforcement or correctional officer must within 5 business days forward the complaint to the employing agency of the officer who is the subject of the complaint for review or investigation."

A public records request was made of the VCSO in order to obtain a record of their forwarding of the complaint dated September 26, 2007 to the Sanford Airport Authority. No records could be obtained to support the position that the VCSO had complied with this statutory requirement. We were advised:

"To the best recollection of the others who were involved in this case, Mr. Dale’s employer was notified and made aware of the incident. However, they don’t recall whether or not a report was provided to Mr. Dale’s employer. Therefore, I am unable to state with certainty whether or not that occurred." (6)

I submit to you that based on experience that from the moment that it was determined that Larry Alvin Dale was identified as a Commander with the Sanford Airport Police that someone somehow contacted someone at the Sanford Airport Police and let them know what was going on. Unfortunately unless there is an honest person out there we will never know this for sure.

Upon obtaining this information we also contacted the Sanford Airport Police Department and requested their records of this incident. On December 8, 2011, Ms. Diane Crews advised that the only document relative to my request was a MEMORANDUM dated October 30, 2007. (7)

And this brings us to the third story of Dale concerning the incident of September 9, 2007. Now we are to believe this version of the incident. Please note that Larry Dale, President/CEO sends this Memorandum to SAA BOARD MEMBERS, The MAYOR of Sanford and the CITY COMMISSION. Now why Commander Dale did not send this memorandum to the Chief of Police Sanford Airport Authority is for Larry Dale to explain. We are to believe that Chief Bryant Garrett is Larry Dales supervisor but the chain of command is confusing when Bryant Garrett is also the Chief Financial Officer of the Sanford Airport which falls under the authority of the President and CEO , Larry Dale. So we are to believe that Commander Dale is under Chief Garrett and at the same time Mr. Garrett is under President Dale.

Now back to story #3. Dale informs the above persons that:

"As a sworn law enforcement officer, in light of what I believed to be a felony in progress, and as the Owner’s Agent, it was necessary for me to take immediate action to investigate and secure the situation. To safeguard my companions, the unknown perpetrators, and myself, these measures were undertaken using an appropriate level of caution and routine law enforcement procedures. At no time did I remove my weapon. In fact, I did not even unsnap the holster."

Notice the tone of this incident. The words used "dangerous, potentially fatal, reckless use of prohibited firearms, felony in progress, immediate action to investigate and secure, to safeguard …." And just exactly how did Larry Dale safeguard his companions which included his eleven year old daughter? Well he puts them in his marked Police vehicle and confronts these three armed suspected felons. Here is a hint:


Every rookie knows that you do not place them in danger especially when you see that the suspects are ARMED. And what exactly required the "immediate action" on the part of this law enforcement officer? And just how long had Larry Dale had his law enforcement certificate? What agency had he been employed as a Police Officer? And for how long?

As a wise man once said, This dog don’t hunt. The rest of the 3rd story speaks for itself. But remember the King has spoken so we must believe his story or to use Dale’s own words as they appeared in the Sentinel article dated October 30, 2007: (1)

"I can’t imagine an investigator, when you have two witnesses on both sides believing one side over the other, especially when the other side includes a sworn-law enforcement officer."

As a sworn law enforcement officer Commander Dale did not understand that there were three victims and of his two witnesses one was his minor daughter. But then again with Commander Dales years of law enforcement experience he should know this minor fact.

So now we have heard the three stories by Dale, his daughter and friend. So lets go to the only sworn written statement of this incident as documented by Victim #1, Jerry L. Autry. (3)

Mr. Autry writes that he, his son and his sons friend were target shooting with a pistol on property leased by the New Smyrna Conservation and Hunt Club of which he was a member.

"After firing approximately 25 rounds, I turned to look at a dark Ford Ranger pickup truck which was approaching with flashing red and blue lights in the grill. I laid my pistol down and turned to walk to the truck. A white male with a handgun leveled at me and my guest yelled drop your weapons and raise your hands. My pistol was already down so I raised my hands. My sons hands were also in the air. Toni was still holding her pistol at her side & appeared to be scared and confused. Again the officer yelled drop your weapon & raise your hands, she complied. We were told to lift our shirts & turn around. We were then told to place our hands behind our head & walk backward toward his truck which we did. At his truck we (were) asked if we had any hidden weapons, each of us was then searched & told to place our hands on his truck , which we did."

For those of you in law enforcement you might recognize the scenario described by Mr. Autry. It is a standard "Felony Stop" procedure. Which makes total sense for a trained Law Enforcement officer who is approaching three armed suspected felons. Only one problem, Dale his daughter and friend said it did not happen this way.

We now turn to the other two remaining victims of this incident. For some unknown reason sworn statements were not taken of these victims. Inv. Mathis conversation with Victim #2, Jerry Autry Jr. , confirms almost everything in the statement of his father with one exception. In the interview Inv. Mathis writes:

"At first Jerry Autry Jr. thought it was the cops, he observed the older man, later identified as Larry Dale crouch down behind the driver’s door of the vehicle like he was “taking cover”. Jerry Autry Junior advised that he watched as Larry Dale put his hand in the area of his hip like he was pulling a gun."

Jerry Autry Jr. then goes onto say that they walked backwards toward the Truck at which time they were patted down by Dale. While they were being patted down Dale’s weapon was holstered.

"Jerry Autry Junior stated that Larry Dale has his hand on his gun, but he never actually saw him pull it out. Jerry Autry Junior advised that Larry Dale may have had the handgun drawn while Jerry Autry Junior had his back to him. Jerry Autry Junior stated that the holster was unbuttoned though."

And then we have the phone interview of victim #3, Toni Columbie, who advised that she stated that, "Larry Dale pointed his gun at Toni Columbie and told her to drop her weapon."

Now you have the information presented to Inv. Mathis. Inv. Mathis then presents his investigative report to his supervisor, Sgt. P. Thoman, who agrees with the report and forwards the Charging Affidavit to the State Attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit requesting the prosecution of Larry Alvin Dale for three counts of Aggravated Assault Firearm and three counts of False Imprisonment. It should be noted that still no one notifies the SAA and forwards them a copy of the Complaint.

Now even though the Orlando Sentinel Reporter Robert Perez notifies Larry Dale of this request for prosecution on October 30, 2007, no internal investigation is started by the Sanford Airport Authority. As a result of a public records request, Chief of Police Sanford Airport Authority responds with a Interoffice Memorandum addressed to Diane Crews dated 12/08/2011. (8)

Chief Garrett confirms that no internal investigation was conducted by the Sanford Airport Police and as such no CJSTC Form 78 was forwarded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This fact would be confirmed from Asst. General Counsel James Martin, FDLE. (9) You cannot make this stuff up so you have to read Chief Garrett’s comment on item 5 of his reply which states:

"5. Sanford Airport Police Department internal investigations are generally generated by an external complaint. The Sanford airport Police Department did not receive an external complaint stemming from any alleged incident that occurred in Volusia County on September 9, 2007."

In reading Chief Garrett’s reply a few words jumped out at me, like "generally generated and external complaint." So to better understand how internal investigations are conducted by the SAA Police I requested a copy of their procedure for the receipt and processing of complaints as mandated by FSS 112.533(1)(a). (10)

As a result of my request Ms. Diane Crews informed me that:

"In response to your request, be advised that the Sanford Airport Police Department’s (SAPD) established “system”, as referenced in F.S. 112.533, is not in writing. However, attached is a copy of a draft policy found in our files. Please note that this draft has not been approved, or adopted." (11)

I told you that you cannot make this stuff up. So here we have a Police Department which is in violation of our laws and not investigating one of their own and uses the excuse that they did not receive an external complaint when the truth is they do not even have a mandated system in place to investigate one of their own. But rest assured that according to Chief Garrett, "The Sanford Airport Police Department follows Florida State Law – F.S. Title X, Chapter 112.532 when conducting an internal investigation."

Even though the Sanford Airport Police does not follow Florida State Law- F.S. Title X, Chapter 112.533. (12), I can understand the confusion seeing as how this statute is right under the other one.

Chief Garrett further cites a consultation with an FDLE certification representative and advises that:

"It was agreed that no action would be taken until a formal complaint was brought to the Sanford Airport Police Department or upon evidence that would constitute "cause to suspect" a moral failure of an officer under our employment."(8)) At the time of this article we have not received a reply from FDLE concerning the "Daily Report of Activity" for the former employee of the FDLE with whom this consultation is alleged to have taken place. It should be noted that this FDLE employee separated from the FDLE on October 12, 2007. This was eighteen days before Larry Dale was first notified of the request for prosecution by Robert Perez.

Now we return to what the State Attorney’s office did with this case. It is first assigned to Assistant State Attorney Amy Walker who declines to prosecute the case on or about November 20, 2007, using the reason that Larry Dale was acting as an Agent for the New Smyrna Conservation and Hunt Club Inc. No records were obtained at the time of this article which were presented to the State Attorney’s office to verify this claim.

No contact could be made with VCSO Investigator James Mathis in order to fill in the holes seeing as how he resigned from the VCSO on April 4, 2008.

Contact was made with Victim #1, Mr. Jerry Autry who advised that he was disappointed to say the least with the failure to prosecute Larry Dale. Mr. Autry advised that his son is still on active duty in defense of our Country.

So who do we believe in this story. Because like it or not three people are liars. So you decide which story do you believe. As for my opinion it is pretty simple, I believe in Mr. Jerry Autry, the only man who provided a sworn statement under the penalty of perjury in this case.

But for those of you who believe the story of the king and those of the Protected Class , well I am sure that there is something in it for you, get used to bowing down. And for all the taxpayers and business owners in the City of Sanford Florida as well as in Seminole County and the State of Florida, we deserve better from these public servants.

Do we believe that anything will come of this article. To be honest NO, after all who are we to question the Protected Class, let alone someone who others look at as a king.


1. Orlando Sentinel Article, October 30, 2007
2. VCSO Incident Report #07-33228, dated 09-27-2007
3. Sworn Statement of Mr. Jerry Autry
4. VCSO Supplemental Report dated 10-02-07
5. 7th Judicial Circuit Charging Affidavit, dated 10-03-2007
6. Public Records VCSO and reply dated 12/10/2011
7. Public records request SAA ref. Incident on 09-09-2007, MEMORANDUM dated 10-30-2007
8. Sanford Airport Authority Interoffice Memorandum from Bryant Garrett dated 12/8/2011
9. Reply to Public records request to FDLE reference Larry Dale dated 11/22/2011
10. Florida State Statute 112.533
11. Public records request and reply dated 12/12/2011 from Diane Crews, SAA
12. Florida State Statute 112.532
13. Boars Nest article
14. FDLE Internal Investigation report CJSTC Form 78 & Instructions
15. Florida Administrative Code 11B-27.0011 Moral Character

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
-Edmund Burke