Holly Hill residents react to alleged misconduct within police department

Tensions were high at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Holly Hill City Council on Tuesday evening.

Several people took to the podium to air grievances after a scathing report was released on Friday detailing alleged graphic sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior within the Holly Hill Police Department.

"This council has to make changes for the betterment of the people, not for yourselves," said a resident.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office (VCSO) conducted that investigation. 

"It's not good what happened, but I think it is being dealt with, and we have to move on from that," said another resident in the meeting. 

Another person said, "I hope this never happens to your wife, or your mother, or your daughter, and if it did, how would you  feel?"

VCSO interviewed dozens of former and current Holly Hill Police Department employees, many of whom alleged that former Chief Jeffrey Miller, former Captain Christopher Yates, and Sergeants Thomas Bentley and Shannon Fountain acted inappropriately. 

After reading the 104-page report over the weekend, another resident said, "Some of these [employees] are investigators? I just sat there with this report thinking, how could this be?"

"I don't know if transparency can go forward with the same council and police still," another resident said. 


Holly Hill announced last week that the city had appointed Byron Williams as police chief, replacing former Chief Miller, who resigned in March.  

Some residents expressed that the measure was insufficient to ensure public trust or approval of the department. 

"Council, you should take a stand. Request Forte's resignation. That will send a message that this will not be tolerated, or you can keep your head in the sand," a resident said. 

Joseph Forte is the city manager who has been fielding complaints from the public and within the police department about its culture. Forte addressed concerns at the start of the meeting. 

As for the alleged victims involved, one resident said, "The community supports you and stands by you, police officers who have dedicated their lives to protect and serve our community." 

She goes on to say, "How these women were able to show up to work every day and deal with these horrific men is beyond me." 

On Thursday, at 6 p.m., Holly Hill will host a meet-and-greet of the new chief at city hall.