THE FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
On November 23, 1931, under the administration of Governor Doyle E. Carlton, at the request of the Chairman of the State Road Department, Attorney General Cary D. Landis ruled it shall be the duty of the State Road Department to maintain the state roads and enforce the laws enacted to preserve its physical structure. As a result of this ruling, the road department hired 12 weight inspectors who were placed under the supervision of the division engineers. This was the beginning of state law enforcement in Florida.
In January 1934, under the administration of Governor Dave Sholtz, a Division of Traffic Enforcement was created as a result of an Attorney General's opinion indicating the division could enforce the motor vehicles laws. As a result, E. A. Shurman was appointed Traffic Inspector. The division was given a distinctive military style uniform, forest green in color.
In July 1936, Chairman C. B. Treadway appointed Army Major H. Neil Kirkman, Chief of the State Road Department's Traffic Division because of his experience in the Armed Forces associated with traffic and his background in engineering. Army Major Kirkman was the engineer supervising the construction of the Palatka Memorial bridge over the St. Johns River.
When Fred P. Cone was elected Governor in 1937, as an economic move, he abolished the traffic enforcement division of the State Road Department even though it performed valuable service to the citizens of Florida during the years of service.
The American Legion and the Jaycees strongly supported the idea of establishing a highway patrol to serve the needs of the motoring public. Richard (Dick) W. Ervin was the attorney for the State Road Department and his supervisor was Arthur B. Hale, Governor Cone's Chairman of the State Road Department.
Chairman Hale authorized Mr. Ervin to prepare legislation to create a Department of Public Safety with a highway patrol division and a driver license division, and lobby its passage in the 1939 Session of the Legislature. Richard Ervin was the author of the legislation creating the Department of Public Safety and the Florida Sheriff's Bureau which paved the way for the creation of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Mr. Ervin contacted H. M. Fearnside, a state representative from Palatka and Putnam Counties. Fearnside agreed to introduce the legislation and work for its passage.
In 1939, the Florida Legislature created the State Department of Public Safety with two divisions; the Florida Highway Patrol and the Division of State Motor Vehicle Drivers Licenses, under the control of Governor Fred P. Cone and Chairman of the State Road Department, Arthur B. Hale.
The legislation authorized 60 officers to patrol the public highways and to enforce all State laws in effect, or hereinafter enacted, regulating and governing traffic, travel and public safety upon the public highways, and providing penalties for violations thereof, including the operation, regulation and licensing of motor vehicles and drivers thereof, and other vehicles thereon, with full police power to bear arms and to arrest persons violating said laws. The beginning salary was $1,500 per year for a highway patrolmen and each year thereafter the salary would be increased $120 a year until a maximum of $2,000 a year was reached.
Funds for the operation of the Department were to come from the sale of driver licenses. In order to get started, the Legislature transferred funds from the General Revenue to a State Driver License Fund for a period of 90 days to carry out the provision of the Act until the Department could repay the funds through the sale of driver licenses, which cost fifty cents for an operators license and one dollar for a chauffeurs license.
In September 1939, W. F. Reid was appointed Director of the Department of Public Safety by Governor Fred Cone and the Chairman of the State Road Department, Arthur B. Hale.
On October 1, 1939, H. Neil Kirkman was appointed as the first Commander of the Florida Highway Patrol due to his military background in the United States Army and his vast experience as Chief of Florida's State Road Department. Colonel H. Neil Kirkman was originally from Greensboro, North Carolina but considered Palatka, Florida his home. He entered the United States Army as a Private in 1917 and was discharged as a First Lieutenant. He was a charter member of the American Legion and served as State Commander of the American Legion during 1922 - 1923. He was engaged in the construction business for many years, particularly in building bridges such as the Memorial Bridge at Palatka and the Clearwater Causeway Bridge. Colonel Kirkman laid the groundwork for what has become the motto of the Florida Highway Patrol: "Service, Courtesy, Protection."
In 1939, the uniform color for the Florida Highway Patrol was forest green. The forest green whipcord blouse had orange piping around the epaulets and shirt pockets with silver buttons carrying the State seal. There was an orange and blue shoulder patch on the left shoulder, with silver collar ornaments - FHP on the left lapel and a wheel with wings attached to each side on the right lapel signifying traffic. There was a badge, chain and whistle. The shirt was forest green with orange piping around the epaulets and shirt pockets. Trousers were forest green with 1-1/2" black stripe. Shoes were black. In addition, each trooper was issued two pair of riding britches with 1-1/2" black stripe and a pair of black boots for winter dress.
The collar ornament design is a wing and wheel similar to the insignia that appears on the Ohio State Highway Patrol cars today. The original insignias had a broken spoke in the wheel which is the origin of the Broken Spoke Club.
A black Sam Browne belt, 3" wide, with handcuff case, cartridge clip, and a swivel or swing holster carrying a .38 caliber Colt revolver on the right side, with a shoulder strap to support the revolver and other equipment, completed the body uniform.
The first beige Stetson, or "Campaign", hats purchased for the Patrol in 1939, were $12.50 each. The hat, was the Stetson 3X Beaver, with a 1-1/2" orange hat band and a thin, 32" long, tan leather head strap to hold the hat in place. Before the turn of the century the Stetson 3X Beaver, as its name implies, was made from genuine beaver pelt; however, it is not known what type of fur, if any, our original Stetsons were made from.
Our uniforms and ornaments originated with the military. Our original Stetson hat first appeared on the scene during the civil war, was beige in color, rounded on top instead of creased down the middle, and was worn by the officers of the Union Forces. Confederate Forces also wore the same hat but gray in color.
In November, 1939, the first training school was held in Bradenton, Florida, with 40 recruits. The school was directed by Captain George Mingle of the Ohio Highway Patrol, a personal friend of Colonel H. Neil Kirkman. Thirty-two recruits graduated and became patrolmen. Twenty patrolmen were issued specially equipped Ford motor vehicles and twelve were assigned Model 84, Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
On December 12, 1939, "Fourteen Special Autos" arrived in Bradenton for patrol use. The black and cream, two-door Ford Coaches were equipped with sirens and bullet-proof windshields.
In the early years, there was no form of radio communication. Patrolmen would make regular stops at service stations or grocery stores along their routes to call in for assignments, reports of wrecks, and messages.
By the end of 1940, the first full year of operation, the Florida Highway Patrol had 59 officers. The State was divided into three divisions: Northern, Central and Southern. The commanding officer of each division was a Lieutenant. Since there were no district offices, all the records were kept in Tallahassee and each patrolman was responsible for mailing his daily reports to Tallahassee.
The first year of activity included: 154,829 hours of patrol time, 1,000 accidents investigated, 29,860 hours at the station, 127 motorists killed, 1,938,564 miles patrolled, 1,132 persons injured and 4,836 motorists arrested.
In 1998, Florida ranks fourth in population with an estimated 14,720,385 people. An influx of approximately 450 people per day or 160,200 people per year migrates to Florida according to the University of Florida's report on sustaining Florida's resources.
The Patrol has 1,580 sworn officers. Since the statistical data for 1998 will not be complete until late fall 1999, the following statistics are accurate for the Fiscal Year 1996/1997: Traffic crashes investigated 189,993, Florida Traffic Crash Reports 92,497, Short Forms 54,409, Non-Reportable 43,987, Traffic related fatalities 2,811, Traffic related injuries, 240,001, Assistance rendered, 332,198, 48-Hour Corrections Notices issued 154,321, Written Warnings issued 262,615, Child Restraint Warnings 3,475, Infractions 668,664, Misdemeanors 74,119, Felonies 4,868, Miles patrolled 35,482,204, and Total arrests 747,651.
In December, 1940, Commander H. Neil Kirkman was called back to duty in the United States Army when the threat of World War II warranted his particular talents. He served as a United States District Engineer in England, constructing bomber stations, fortresses, and warehouses. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service and retired with the rank of full Colonel.
The 1941 Legislature increased the authorized strength of the Patrol to 190 officers and the pay increased to $150 per month. In the fall, the State Road Department supplied the Division Commanders an office in their district; the Northern District was Lake City, the Central District was Bartow and the Southern District was Ft. Lauderdale.
In January 1941, Governor Spessard Holland appointed Jesse J. Gilliam Director of the State Department of Public Safety. In 1943, Director Gilliam was responsible for legislation requiring the Director of the Department of Public Safety to be appointed by the Governor and members of the Cabinet. Director Jesse J. Gilliam served until August 1, 1945.
New legislation provided that as of September, 1941, everyone applying for an original driver license would be required to pass a vision, road sign, road rules, and driving test, including those whose driving privilege had been suspended or revoked.
Prior to this, to obtain a driver license, all you had to do was simply fill out an application and pay the required fee to the county judge. After the enactment of this law, those persons who had not previously held a license and those renewing a license were required to pass an examination conducted by thirty patrolmen specifically trained for this purpose. The patrolmen administered the driving examinations and then worked their regularly assigned patrol duties after 5 p.m.
In 1948, Florida received national recognition for its driver license program from the National Safety Council. The award was presented to Colonel Kirkman at the Cabinet meeting. Governor Millard Caldwell and the Cabinet were most complementary
When World War II erupted in Europe, many of our patrolmen enlisted to do their patriotic duty. Other patrolmen were called up for defense work. Because of the war, it was hard to get and keep patrol officers. The Patrol's sworn officers were down to 100 and were kept busy escorting military convoys, including gasoline tankers filled with fuel for military installations, and patrolling Florida's 1,197 statute miles of coastline looking for illegal aliens trying to slip ashore. The Patrol, working closely with the military police, was spread thin during these war years, but did not give in or give up.
In April 1942, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, aided by the Florida Highway Patrol, launched a series of raids on Florida's east coast. They entered 67 homes of German and Italian nationals, seized guns, ammunition, dynamite, caps, fuses, and radio receivers. Some of the persons captured were classified by the FBI as dangerous. Throughout the war, patrolmen aided in the search and apprehension of prisoners of war.
Supplies were extremely limited during the "War Years." When shoes issued by the Department got badly worn, they were repaired and returned to the patrolmen. There were no new shoes.
Gasoline was rationed and each patrolman was issued stamps which limited the amount of gasoline he could purchase. The only tires available were made of synthetic rubber and they would come apart at high speeds.
During Director Gilliam's administration, World War II was in progress and textile mills were using all green wool for military uniforms. Mr. Gilliam selected the army officers' pink material for the uniform trousers and britches. In 1943, the Patrol's uniform blouse was olive drab whipcord with silver buttons bearing the state seal, a patch on the left shoulder (the orange emblem with the word "Florida" spelled out), silver collar ornament "F.H.P." on the left lapel and the "Winged Wheel" ornament on the right, signifying traffic. A badge, chain, whistle, army pink trousers with a 1 inch black stripe from waist to hem, black riding britches, and one pair of black plain-toed riding boots completed the uniform. Instructions were to wear riding britches and boots on each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the forest green uniforms were phased out. Also, part of the uniform was the graphite blue Stetson hat, Sam Browne 3" gun belt , plus handcuff and cartridge cases.
Changes to the uniform included a new holster, commonly known as the "cross draw," resting on the left hip. This type of holster was selected for the protection of the officer, because it is out-of-sight to persons under arrest.
The Florida Highway Patrol radio communications system began operating in 1943. Mr. Earl Burchard installed our communication system (Motorola) beginning in Bartow, headquarters for the Central Division, Captain H. C. Martin was the Troop Commander. Whenever possible, Colonel Jesse J. Gilliam wanted to employ handicapped personnel to serve as duty officers in the radio room.
By the end of 1944, there were 13 stations statewide in operation with mobile units in all the patrol cars. Monitoring services with the larger police departments were provided. Communication was established with Georgia and Alabama by placing receivers in stations along the borders, which proved very beneficial for all three states.
This new radio communication system was put to the test, when a hurricane tore through Florida in October 1944, and passed with outstanding grades! The Florida Highway Patrol radio units provided the only means of communication for those areas devastated by the hurricane.
On August 15, 1945, Colonel H. N. Kirkman returned home from the war and assumed his position as the Director of the State Department of Public Safety. The appointment was made unanimously by Governor Milliard Caldwell and the Cabinet. Captain I. Olin Hill, Executive Officer, was appointed Acting Director until Colonel Kirkman could be officially discharged from the Armed Forces on October 1, 1945.
In the Fall of 1946, Governor Millard Caldwell requested Colonel Kirkman provide copies of all the patrolmen's activities to him and the Cabinet at all future Executive Board meetings. The statistical data included number of accidents, number injured and killed, property damage, arrests, written warnings and any other pertinent information. In addition, Governor Caldwell suggested this same information be given to the news media for publication to the general public and be displayed at all the state and county fairs.
Colonel Kirkman appointed Captain J. Wallace Smith to assemble the statistical data. Sergeant Clay W. Keith was assigned to prepare the exhibits since he had been formerly employed by the Florida National Exhibits in Deland, Florida.
The first exhibit was at the Florida Citrus Exposition in Winter Haven, Florida, in February of 1947. Governor Caldwell, Colonel Kirkman, John Snively, Captain I. Olin Hill (Troop Commander of the Central Division), and Mr. Phil Lucy (Manager of the Exposition), visited the booth.
Sergeant Keith decorated the booths with orange and blue crepe paper, displayed large photographs of motor vehicle accidents and the major violations that caused traffic accidents, and showcased the various equipment the Patrol used at the time.
The exhibits were an instant success with the public. Sergeant Keith found himself covering 15 county fairs as well as the annual state fair. Patrolman Bill Norris of Lakeland was assigned to the fair detail to assist Sergeant Keith.
The following comments from Governor Caldwell regarding his views on traffic safety were part of the exhibit:
"I have not hesitated to call upon the substantial citizens of this State when the real job has to be done. This - accident prevention - is probably the hardest single task which MUST be undertaken and in which we MUST succeed. The importance of this task is so obvious that it requires no emphasis from me. This is a war against a ruthless enemy - accident. There is no need of beating about the bush or dodging the issue. If the public wants to STOP, the inexcusable waste of human life - resulting from traffic accidents - it can be, to a great extent, STOPPED." (Taken from the minutes of the Cabinet meeting dated October 3, 1946.)
In 1946, in a meeting with the Highway Patrolman who conducted driver license examinations, Sergeant C. W. Keith learned that the great majority of truck drivers who traveled out of the state had a driver license in each state they traveled through.
In 1947, Mr. Leo Foster, attorney for the Department prepared legislation on a "One License Concept." This concept became part of the driver license compact used by a great majority of the states. This law corrected much duplication in our driver records bureau.
In 1947, the first Patrol station was built in Tallahassee. In 1949, for the first time, revenue to operate the Department of Public Safety was appropriated from the General Revenue Fund. At the close of 1950, the FHP had 171 Patrolmen on the road. The 1951 Legislature authorized a pay increase to $275 per month and increased the authorized strength to 300 patrolmen; however, the lack of funds kept the Department from employing them.
In 1950, Captain C. E. "Red" Taylor was brought to Tallahassee to head up the public information and accident records section which was newly established during his tenure. Red Taylor served as the patrol's representative of public safety in the legislature. He was instrumental in working with the police and other law enforcement agencies in following the guidelines of the National Traffic Safety inventory concerning the uniformity of reporting accidents and providing for funding for enforcement personnel. His work provided local agencies and the state tremendous leverage with the legislature in getting the personnel to enforce traffic laws, which ultimately helped the Highway Patrol.
With the creation of the Florida Highway Patrol in 1939, safety education duties became an integral part of each trooper's responsibilities. At the request of the local citizenry, troopers conducted local educational activities. As the State grew, so did the responsibilities of the Florida Highway Patrol.
In January, 1951, the Safety Education Section was formed with its main office located in General Headquarters in Tallahassee. During subsequent years, the section grew to its current strength. Along with this growth came increased responsibilities. Recognizing the need to provide the citizens and visitors of the State with current information regarding Florida Highway Patrol and highway safety activities and the traffic laws of Florida.
Captain Karl Adams took over the Public Information and Accident Record Section in 1952. In 1957, Legislature passed a bill to provide safety officers and driver license supervisors with the rank of Sergeant. He served as legislative liaison for the Patrol. He became the Patrol's first administrative assistant with the Rank of Major when he took over the Budget Section.
During Colonel Bobby R. Burkett's tenure he retitled the section "Public Information and Recruitment Office" and placed it under the supervision Major Charles C. Hall, followed by Majors Robert M. Kirby, Michael L. Boles and Kenneth C. Howes
The Investigation Section of the Patrol was created in 1952. As a result of the problems created by civilian driver license examiners accepting bribes from applicants receiving driver licenses, Lieutenant C. W. Keith and Sergeant C. C. Reynolds were appointed to run investigations to solve this problem. As a result, a number of examiners were sent to Raiford Prison. During the investigation, the Attorney General appointed his assistant, George Owens, to guide and direct the Florida Highway Patrol in its investigation. When completed, the Attorney General recommended to Colonel Kirkman that an investigation section be established with the department. Sergeant A. E. Reddick was appointed the first Chief Investigator.
When the Kirkman Building was built, three rooms in the north wing on the fourth floor were set aside for the Chief Investigator and special rooms for interrogation. The Section has the overall responsibility of investigations involving organized motor vehicles theft organizations, stolen and counterfeit drivers licenses, and stolen or counterfeit motor vehicle documents.
The Section also has the responsibility of investigating all Worker's Compensation claims, the security of all DHSMV revenue documents and the security of all Department facilities. The Section has the responsibility of polygraph pre-employment screening and internal affairs investigations as assigned by the Director.
Each of the investigators are "specialists" trained in all ramifications of investigations and offer to the Troopers and other Divisions expert assistance in those matters over which the Department has jurisdiction.
In late 1952, the Patrol realigned the divisions. Boundaries were changed and divisions became Troops and were designated as A, B, C, D, E and Headquarters Troop.
Bordered by Alabama on the north and by the Gulf of Mexico on the south, Troop A consists of 10 northwest Florida counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington. Troop A Headquarters is located in Panama City, Bay County, Florida. District stations are located in Marianna, Crestview, and Pensacola.
Having been a part of the northern district and later the western district, Troop A was formed on December 23, 1952. Previous commanders were Captains Tobe Bass, R. L. Robinson, Johnnie Jourdan, K. D. Sconiers, and Joe R. Henderson.
The Pensacola Station is dedicated to retired Captain Owen T. "Casey" Cason.
In the early 40s, Troop B was known as the Northern Division of the Florida Highway Patrol and was comprised of seventeen counties. Captain Fitzhugh Lee was Commander of the Northern Division and in July 1946, Lieutenant Reid Clifton was appointed to that position. Previous commanders were Captain Olin Hill. In 1955, Captain C. E. Taylor took over the reins.
In July, 1957, Troop B was reduced to 11 counties. Captain C. W. Hancock was the Acting Troop Commander for a short time. His successor were Captains J. W. Hagans. K. D. Sconiers, J. E. Beach, B. J. Barnett, G. E. Jordan, B. H. Spears, T. C. Hodges, J. E. Love, T. F. Sigman, and Major Alvin P. Edlin and Major Billy R. Lee.
In 1939, Troop C was part of the Central Division of the Florida Highway Patrol. Headquarters was located in the State Road Department building in Bartow. In 1951, Headquarters was relocated in Lakeland at the Lodwick Airport.
Captain H. C. "Red" Martin was the first commander of the Central Division. He was replaced by Captain Mack Britt. In July 1950, the divisions were organized into Troops and the Central Division, which consisted of the 3rd and 5th Districts, was split to form Troop C and Troop D. Hardee and Highlands Counties were later cut from the Troop C and placed in newly formed Troop F. Captain Mack Britt was made Troop Commander of Troop F and Captain I. Olin Hill became Troop Commander of Troop C.
Following Captain Hill, the troop commanders were Captains S. L. Clements, W. R. Intyre, John M. Russi, Major Lester W. Smith, and Major Morris Leggett. Troop Headquarters is located at Brooksville, Lakeland, Pinellas Park and Tampa. Troop C is presently comprised of the following counties: Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, and Sumter.
Troop D was first formed in 1950 under the supervision of Captain Clyde Carlan. Troop D encompasses Orange, Lake, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Flagler, and Volusia Counties with headquarters in Orlando This area was formerly designated the Fourth District of the Central Division.
The first station in Troop D was opened in the early part of 1949 in Melbourne. In November 1956, a new Patrol Station became operational in Deland under the command of Lieutenant H. A. Weaver. In February 1958, Lieutenant Weaver was promoted to Captain and took command of Troop D. He provided competent and distinguished leadership in that capacity until his retirement in February 1980. He was replaced by Captain Jack W. King, followed by Majors Walter E. Sundberg, Jr., James M. Lee and Major Ricky S. Gregory.
Troop is located in the metropolitan lower east coast of the State, had its roots as the headquarters of the Southern Division of the Florida Highway Patrol. Originally located within the Broward County courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, the headquarters was moved to Miami in early 1947.
The first troop commander for the Southern Division was Captain Stuart Senneff. He took command in 1941, when the Patrol divided the State into three geographical / operational areas. Previous Troop Commanders were Captains Tobe Bass, Reid Clifton, J. G. Gallop, J. W. Hagans, H. L. Simmons, J. W. Jourdan, E. D. Duggar, W. A. Stevens, J. E. Hicks, R. B. Garris, Majors John W. Carmody, Paul E. Gracey, and Rebecca P. Tharpe.
In January 1955, Troop F was formed and Bradenton was designated Troop F Headquarters. The first FHP training school was held in Bradenton on November 5, 1939. Troop F formed the first FHP Auxiliary Unit in the State.
The first troop commander was Captain M. G. Britt and followed by Captains J. W. Jourdan, F. M. Thomas, J. T. Prater, Jake Raulerson, A. E. Hambacher, L. D. Brady, Gregory G. Dodson, Majors Paul B. Taylor, and Ronald D. Getman
On January 1, 1957, Troop G began operations with 34 uniformed men. Captain C. W. Hancock commanded the troop which was headquartered in Palatka. Troop G has had seven Troop Commanders. Listed in order, they are: Captains Kenneth D. Sconiers, James T. Prater, Jimmy Hill, Thomas C. Hodges, Alvin P. Edlin, Jr., Majors Thomas A. Sigman, and Grady T. Carrick.
Troop G encompasses the Ocala National Forest, a large segment of the St. Johns River, and Florida's first coast from St. Johns-Flagler County line north to the Florida-Georgia State line.
In March 1957, what had been known as Headquarters Section was officially designated Troop H. Headquarters for Troop H is located in Tallahassee and is headquarters for an eight county area known as "Big Bend." Troop H is comprised of Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla Counties.
The Troop Headquarters building is located at 2100 Mahan Drive and was completed in 1966. The first troop commander was Captain A. D. Cosson, followed by Captains J. P. Cook, Charles W. Saunders, J. M. Roddenberry, James S. McKinnon, Majors Robert L. Bull and David Kelly.
Troop I, the Weights Troop of the Florida Highway Patrol, has its beginning when a group of men were employed by the State Road Department as weight inspectors. In 1934 they were also assigned traffic duties. In 1937 traffic enforcement was abolished, however, a group of these men continued to function as weight inspectors. In 1946, this operation was placed under the Florida Highway Patrol.
In 1957, the Patrol got additional manpower, a pay raise, with starting salaries increasing from $275 a month to $325 a month, and additional rank. On January 1, 1981 the weights division was disband and the officers were given the opportunity to stay or go home. In either case they were assigned to the uniformed division of the Patrol.
Since the Turnpike traveled through several troops, it was decided the cost for patrolling the Turnpike could not be easily established. Moneys reimbursed to the various Troops and their Districts by the Turnpike Authority to handle this function would require tight control. It was decided to logistically patrol the Turnpike there needed to be a separate entity to respond solely to the needs of the Turnpike. In 1956, the Legislature mandated the Turnpike would be patrolled by the Florida Highway Patrol. Those services would be reimbursed through revenue generated by tolls and a new troop was formed, Troop K was designated to Patrol the Sunshine State Parkway.
In October 1956, Captain Clinton E. Taylor became the first troop commander, followed by Captains William R. Kaufman, Ralph Hays, James S. McKinnon, Winthrop A. Vincent, Majors Harvey C. Shoaff, James A. Howell, and Silvester Dawson.
In December 1960, Troop L was formed and headquartered in Palm Beach County. The first commander was Captain J. W. Hagans, succeeded by Captains W. B. Oliver, B. R. Burkett, B. J. Barnett, E. R. Peterson, Majors W. Driggers, and Richard D. Carpenter. The Lantana Station was dedicated in March 1978, to Trooper Herman L. Morris who lost his life in the line of Duty on March 6, 1972.
In the beginning, while on probation, all members were classified as Patrolmen. When they completed their probation, they were classified as Patrol Officers. That changed in 1952, when the new classification for members on the Patrol was Trooper. Florida's "Finest" was 201 strong.
On January 31, 1956, Governor LeRoy Collins presented to the Cabinet a seal with the Florida flags on it to be adopted by the Cabinet and to be used on all state-owned vehicles. Colonel Kirkman asked for and received permission to reformat the seal for use on the Florida Highway Patrol cars in order to provide a more distinctive appearance. Colonel Kirkman gave the responsibility to Lt. C. W. Keith and he prepared mock-up to Colonel Kirkman. Colonel Kirkman presented it to the Governor and the Cabinet and they approved it on February 7, 1956. This seal is still being used on the FHP vehicles. These seals along with all other seals used on the Patrol's vehicles are on display at the FHP Academy. This information was retrieved from the minutes of the Governor and Cabinet meeting.
After nearly twenty years of cramped quarters, sharing the old Martin Building with the Motor Vehicle Commission, the Department of Public Safety held open house in its new headquarters building in Tallahassee on July 8, 1958. The new headquarters was named the Neil Kirkman Building after the Director of the Department of Public Safety. This building became headquarters for the department with two divisions; Division of Driver Licenses and Florida Highway Patrol.
In 1959, Colonel H. N. Kirkman, authorized by the State Cabinet, purchased a Cessna 310, a six passenger twin engine aircraft. This aircraft was used for transportation of command personnel of general headquarters staff.
World War II spurred economic development in Florida. Because of its year-round mild climate, the state became a major training center for soldiers, sailors, and aviators of the United States and its allies. Highway and airport construction accelerated so that, by war's end, Florida had an up-to-date transportation network ready for use by residents and the visitors who seemed to arrive in an endless stream.
One of the most significant trends of the post war era was the steady population growth, resulting from large migrations to the state from within the United States and from countries throughout the western hemisphere, notably Cuba and Haiti.
By 1960, Troop E, headquartered in Miami, had grown so much it was necessary to take Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties and form Troop L headquartered in West Palm Beach. Broward County was added to Troop L in 1981.
In 1961, the Legislature increased the authorized strength of uniformed men to 600 but failed to provide funds for the additional troopers, thus the hiring and training of these men had to wait. However, the Legislature authorized the promotion of all Special Service Officers to the rank of sergeant. These officers included troopers assigned as driver license supervisors and troop safety officers. At the end of 1963, the Patrol had 566 officers.
On July 1, 1965, Florida became one of the first states to use blue emergency lights on its official patrol cars. The use of blue lights was restricted to the Florida Highway Patrol and other police vehicles.
For many years, troopers worked twelve-hour shifts, six days a week. On one occasion, for a period of nine months, they were cut to ten and then nine-hour shifts, but troopers still worked six days a week. Then Governor Haydon Burns and the Cabinet decided the Troopers would begin working a 40-hour week effective January 1, 1966.
In 1966, the Florida Highway Patrol celebrated the grand opening of the new Training Academy located in Tallahassee. The three-story Academy building cost over $700,000. Besides the sleeping quarters for the troopers and recruits in training; the building housed two classrooms, each designed for 60 students, an indoor firing range, a weight room, a recreation room, and a catered cafeteria facility that seats up to 60 people at a time.
The concourse holds very special meaning to those of us who have been honored to join the ranks of Florida's premier agency, known as the Florida Highway Patrol, and to proudly wear the uniform of Florida's "Finest." But we must never forget the pictures, banking an entire wall, of the ones who gave their lives in the line of duty.
The Academy was paid for by fees collected for the sale of driver records and accident reports. The Governor and Cabinet authorized Colonel Kirkman to use money from the "Trust Fund," which didn't cost the taxpayers one cent. The new Academy was a far cry from the old military wooden buildings purchased from the City of Tallahassee in 1955, which the Troopers had been using as sleeping quarters and classrooms.
Then in 1983, an additional building was added adjacent to the existing building, creating even more room. This allowed the academy to conduct in-service schools as well as recruit schools. The academy can house a total of 128 personnel and hold classroom instruction for as many as 175.
The Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy is the common denominator among the troops. Knowing that your fellow officer earned his or her right to wear the uniform the same as you, creates a unique bond between all troopers. This bond instills pride in oneself and in the organization they serve, while at the same time brings together a group of well-trained professionals to serve the public.
During Governor Claude Kirk's term, Florida's voters revised the Florida Constitution in the November election and governmental reorganization took place on July 1, 1969. At the beginning of Governor Kirk's term, Florida had 125 state agencies. At the end of reorganization, Florida had 25. Many agencies were merged, including the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety which formed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The new department consisted of four divisions; Florida Highway Patrol, Driver License, Motor Vehicles and Administrative Services
FHP Director Colonel Reid Clifton
Colonel Reid Clifton took over the reins of the Florida Highway Patrol on August 15, 1969, with the blessings of Colonel Kirkman, the Governor, and the Cabinet. Colonel Clifton retired in 1972.
FHP Director Colonel J. Eldridge Beach
On March 1, 1972, Lieutenant Colonel J. Eldridge Beach was promoted to Colonel and Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. Colonel Beach was born and raised in St. Petersburg where he was educated in the St. Petersburg public schools. After high school he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the Battle of Okinawa and also received the Presidential Unit Citation. He was discharged in 1946.
Upon completion of his military obligations, Colonel Beach entered the University of Florida where he made all-state honors in football and basketball and set four track records. In 1951 he won the State Heavyweight Golden Gloves Boxing Championship. He was inducted into the University of Florida's Football Hall of Fame.
Colonel Beach joined the Florida Highway Patrol as a Patrolman in 1951 but left in 1952 to become District Supervisor with the State Beverage Department. In 1953 he received the Junior Chamber of Commerce Award for the outstanding police work in Leon County. He went to work for the Attorney General's Office in 1954 as a special investigator and returned to the Florida Highway Patrol in 1957 where he came up through the ranks to Colonel and Director of the Florida Highway Patrol in 1972.
One of the first programs he introduced to the Patrol required all members of the Patrol to maintain a high level of physical fitness. Adherence to weight standards became part of personnel evaluations. Under Col. Beach, the Patrol initiated programs that emphasized hiring of more minority troopers and handicapped individuals for communications and office personnel.
Interim Director Lieutenant Colonel Roger C. Collar
On July 31, 1982, Colonel Beach retired and Lieutenant Colonel Roger C. Collar was appointed Interim Director.
FHP Director Colonel Bobby R. Burkett
On December 14, 1982, Colonel Bobby R. Burkett was appointed Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. Colonel Burkett is a graduate of the 13th recruit class of the Florida Highway Patrol Academy which was conducted January - March 1956.
He served as a Trooper in Bay and Leon Counties and was promoted to Corporal and assigned to Dade County in 1969. Later in that same year he was transferred to the Investigations Section and promoted to the rank of Sergeant Investigator in February 1972.
In 1976, Colonel Burkett was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned as a District Commander in Dade and Monroe Counties. After a tour as an assistant Chief Investigator in GHQ commencing in 1978, he was reassigned as a District Commander for Manatee County, in Bradenton in 1979.
In December 1980, Lieutenant Burkett was promoted to Captain and assigned as Troop Commander for Troop L, Palm Beach County, and from that position in May of 1982, was promoted to Major, Deputy Inspector, and reassigned to General Headquarters in Tallahassee.
He holds a BS Degree in Criminal Justice from the Florida International University and is also a graduate of the FBI Academy. Colonel Burkett is past President of the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, Inc., and served as Chairman of the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. He is also a member of the Florid Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriff's Association, Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of the Chiefs of Police, and serves as a member of the Vehicles Theft Committee. Further, he is a member of the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators and serves on the Standing Committee on Police Traffic Services.
Mustang Patrol Cars
In 1983, the Patrol purchased its first Mustang Patrol Cars. The Mustang's handling was one of its greatest assets. Patrol cars of the past were as fast but did not have the high speed handling capabilities of the Mustang. The vehicle responded well to high speed and low speed curves.
In December of 1983, the Patrol established the Canine Section. Each trooper and his canine are trained in all aspects of canine work which includes obedience, attack, tracking, and drugs. The primary use of these units is the detection of illegal drugs.
Motorcycles were once a staple of the Highway Patrol enforcement program and became extinct for a period of time. They are now back and hopefully, here to stay.
The Patrol's new motorcycle section was re-instituted in Miami for traffic enforcement in the latter part of 1985. Their return was brought about largely due to an outbreak of highway robberies occurring on I-95 in Dade County.
Colonel Bobby R. Burkett
In December 1992, Florida Highway Patrol Director Colonel Bobby R. Burkett retired after providing more than thirty years of distinguished service to the Patrol and the citizens of Florida. A nationwide search was instituted for a replacement to guide this agency into 21st century law enforcement.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul B. Taylor
Lieutenant Colonel Paul B. Taylor was named Interim Director of the Florida Highway Patrol until Director Colonel Ronald H. Grimming was selected to lead the largest state law enforcement agency.
FHP Director Colonel Ronald H. Grimming
On March 1, 1993, Ronald H. Grimming was selected as the new FHP Director. Colonel Grimming served more than 22 years with the Illinois State Police and came up through the ranks serving in a wide range of law enforcement services in that agency. He retired as the Deputy Director of the Division of State Troopers with the Illinois State Police.
Colonel Grimming became the first Director in FHP history to be selected from outside the ranks of the Florida Highway Patrol. Colonel Grimming brought many innovations to the agency as well as a national reputation of being a knowledgeable law enforcement administrator.
In April 1993, under the direction of Colonel Grimming, the Drug Interdiction Program was reactivated and reorganized. Colonel Grimming, noting Florida was still a primary entry point for the importation of illicit drugs, directed the troop commanders to reactivate the remaining felony teams and empowered troop commanders to intensify their patrol efforts to include detecting and apprehending motor vehicle drug couriers. Colonel Grimming gave new direction to the program by appointing a statewide interdiction coordinator and keeping the felony teams assigned to their respective troops.
Each team member receives specialized training relative to search and seizure, interdiction techniques, drug identification, and interview and interrogation as well as other specialized training.
They are cross designated as United States Customs Officers under the FHP agreement with the U. S. Customs and the Blue Lightning Strike Force. The 31 felony teams are comprised of 68 FHP specially trained troopers designed as felony officers.
The Patrol seeks out the best canines available pursuant to its stringent guidelines. Each canine handler and their assigned canine are trained and certified as a team pursuant to guidelines established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Currently there are 39 canines on patrol.
After 50 years of tradition, the campaign hat introduced by Colonel H. Neil Kirkman, was changed to the "Smoky Bear" type hat which is black in color, providing a contrast that matches the epaulets and piping around the pockets.
In May of 1994, the Florida Highway Patrol was in for a change in hats. Studies showed the Campaign hat provided more protection from Florida's cancerous ultraviolet sun rays than other law enforcement hats. In addition, a 1989 Ball State University study of seven types of police uniform hats rated the Campaign hat #1 for providing officers with the most authoritative and commanding presence, and showed the wearing of uniform hats a positive effect on the public's image of police officers.
Being primarily a traffic oriented organization, the FHP has traditionally utilized fixed-wing aircraft for search, rescue, drug surveillance, and traffic patrol and enforcement. While there are ten (10) fixed wing planes still in use, the Patrol recognized that its role in other law enforcement functions was increasing and the need for another type of aircraft was needed to supplement our air operations resources.
Many of our fixed wing aircraft are equipped with Lo-Jack Stolen Vehicle Recovery Systems and have been responsible for the location and recovery of a record number of motor vehicles during this past year.
To compliment our flight section, we now have three Bell OH-58 A+, light observation jet turbine helicopters capable of operating at remote sites (off airport), at night and from a hover to 110 knots airspeed. The helicopters are LO-Jack equipped, have a 30,000 candlepower "Night Sun" spotlight system, and UHF/VHF and 800 megahertz radio systems for communication. The first such craft was assigned to Troop K.
The helicopters are used on patrol and for special details such as the Olympic Soccer Venue and the Valu Jet Flight 592 crash site. South Florida's A-17 played a major role in the recovery efforts, investigation, scene security, and other special assignments at the Valu Jet crash site.
They have conducted surveillance/photography missions for ATF in a domestic terrorism (militia) weapons case. Helicopters were used in Hurricane "Opal" relief efforts, Homestead and Daytona Race Details, and were instrumental in the apprehension of a suspect who had shot and mortally wounded a Ft. Lauderdale Police Officer.
In addition to the helicopter in south Florida, a second one is assigned to Troop B in Lake City and a third is assigned to Troop A in Pensacola. This latter ship is crewed in a cooperative effort between the FHP and Escambia County Sheriff's Office. The pilot is a FHP Flight Officer and the observer is an Escambia County Deputy Sheriff.
Our aircraft section is a force multiplier and assists and provides air support for our troopers throughout the state. Funding for conversion of the helicopters was obtained from the Turnpike Authority, Department of Corrections, and the Escambia County Sheriff's Department.
Another challenge facing the agency was the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in which the Patrol began the long enduring process under the leadership of Colonel Bobby R. Burkett, it gained prominence nationally by becoming the 13th state police/highway patrol agency to achieve national accreditation.
FHP Director Colonel Charles C. Hall
Charles C. "Curt" Hall, a 32-year veteran of the FHP, was appointed Director of the Florida Highway Patrol on March 10, 1998, by the Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Mr. Fred O. Dickinson, III.
Colonel Hall received his Associate of Science Degree in Law Enforcement from Pasco Hernando Community College, and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology at Florida State University. He is also a graduate of the Senior Leadership Program and the Chief Executive Seminar, both sponsored by the Executive Institute of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Colonel Hall was a member of the Patrol's 28th Recruit Class. After completing his initial training at the FHP Academy, he began his career as a Trooper in Glades County. He has progressed up through all ranks within the Patrol. Before being appointed as Director of the Patrol, his most recent assignment was Deputy Director of Field Operations.
Colonel Hall served in the United States Air Force from 1961 until 1965, when he was honorably discharged. He is a member of the Florida Sheriff's Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, and the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association.
DHSMV Executive Directors
• Colonel H. Neil Kirkman, 1969 - 1970.
• General Ralph Davis, 1970 - 1978.
• Chester Blakemore, 1978 - 1982.
• Judge Bob Butterworth, 1982 - 1984.
• Leonard R. Mellon, 1984 - 1992.
• Fred O. Dickinson, III, 1992 - Present.
TROOP ADDRESS TELEPHONE
A-Panama City P.O. Box 15729, 32406-5729 (850) 872-4150
B-Lake City 2402 US 90 West, 32055 (904) 758-0515
C-Tampa 11305 North McKinley Drive 33612 (813) 632-6859
D-Orlando P.O. Box 140193, 32814-0193 (407) 737-2300
E-Miami 1011 NW 111th Avenue, 33172 (305) 470-2565
F-Bradenton P.O. Box 20009, Braden River Branch, 34203-0009 (941) 751-7647
G-Jacksonville 7322 Normandy Blvd, 32205 (904) 695-4115
H-Tallahassee 2100 Mahan Drive, 32308-6199 (904) 488-8676
K-West Palm Beach P.O. Box 16007, 33416 (561) 640-2831
L-Lantana P.O. Box 8148, 33465 (561) 540-1146
Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary
The Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary (FHPA) was formed in 1955 in cooperation with the Florida American Legion. An Act authorizing the Auxiliary was approved by Governor Leroy Collins on May 14, 1957.
FHPA is authorized by Chapter 321.24, Florida Statutes. Statewide there are 30 units, within ten field troops, consisting of 410 total members.
During the calendar year 1997, members contributed 216,629 volunteer hours assisting the Florida Highway Patrol.
The primary mission of FHPA is to effectively and efficiently assist the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) in the performance of its duties through volunteer members. Auxiliary members serve under the direction and supervision of a FHP member.
The primary duties of the Auxiliary are to assist the Florida Highway Patrol in the performance of their regularly constituted duties. This includes the following:
Assisting members of the Florida Highway Patrol in their regularly constituted duties by riding with troopers on patrol.
Assisting communication center duty officer's in their duties.
Operating chemical test equipment to assist troopers in the detection of impaired drivers.
Assist in traffic details.
Assist in aircraft surveillance operations.
Assist in emergency situations when such action is appropriate. This includes emergency situations such as hurricanes, fires, or other natural disasters.
Applicants for FHPA must meet the same basic standards as applicants for full-time trooper positions. This includes background investigation, physical examination (paid for by the applicant), polygraph and drug screen.
Members of the Auxiliary serve without compensation and provide their own uniforms and firearms.
New Auxiliary members must complete a Basic Training Course which includes firearms, self-defense, a driving course and first aid. This is in accordance with the requirements of the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. Additionally, members receive on-going field training, within their unit.