DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interview with Colonel Roger Cleland Collar
Employed with FHP 8/26/51 12/30/83
Interviewed by Captain James M. Roddenberry
Date Interviewed 1/11/89
JMR: I am Jim Roddenberry at the Florida Highway Patrol
Headquarters, located in the Neil Kirkman Building,
Tallahassee, Florida. Today's date is January 11, 1989,
and it is Wednesday. Its a warm, foggy day. I have the
pleasure of conducting an interview of retired Deputy
Director Roger C. Collar. The purpose of this interview is
for the Florida Highway Patrol Oral History project in
conjunction with the Patrol's observance of its 50th year
anniversary this year and also in conjunction with the
University of Florida oral history program.Colonel Collar,
let me just say that, to begin with, that the Florida
Highway Patrol Director Burkett appreciates you taking the
time to come in and participate in this program. The
Patrol felt that if anyone would have some history of
itself, you would and we are just delighted to have you
here this morning and I welcome you back to the building.
It is always good to see you.
RCC: Thank you. Its a pleasure to take part in this.
JMR: Colonel, lets start the interview, lets, lets talk about
you, some of your personal life prior to your becoming the
Patrol, coming on, being a part of the Highway Patrol
JMR: First, what is your full name?
RCC: Roger Cleland Collar.
JMR: Would you, I had always wondered what...
RCC: My middle name is Cleland, C L E L A N D as in Grover.
JMR: Would you spell that for us please
RCC: CLELAND, Roger Cleland Collar.
JMR: And of course, that last name is, I have heard you say
many, many times when you were introduced to people, you
would say shirt collar and that's, there is no problem with
the spelling of the last name. Where were you born,
RCC: I was born in Lake Worth, Florida, eh, inaudible, September
28, 1927, my parents home at that time was in Lantana,
which is the, you know just adjunct to Lake Worth, but I
was actually born in a little hospital in Lake Worth.
JMR: And you lived in Lantana for how long?
RCC: Yea, I stayed and lived in Lantana eh, until I got, you
know, went off to the service and went to college and was
married there and continued to work there after I finished
college and when I came on the Patrol, really, is when I
moved away from there.
JMR: Where did you go to high school, Colonel Collar?
RCC: Went to Lake Worth High.
JMR: And after you graduated from High School?
RCC: I went into the Navy and was in the Navy, that was in 1945
and was really at the tag end of world war II. I was one
the last reserves to go into the service and was actually
in the service less than a year, and I was discharged in
1946. It, in August of '46 and I enrolled immediately in
Palm Beach Junior College. It was, G I's were scrambling
to get into schools everywhere and it turned out that I was
lucky just to get out and get in at that time. So I lived
at home and went to Palm Beach Junior College for two years
and I finished that in '48 .
JMR: That was the Junior College?
RCC: The Junior College and then I went to the University of
Miami, finished there and graduated in February of 1950.
Then I came back to Palm Beach County and taught school at
Lake Worth High where I graduated and that, I started
teaching a mid-term and I taught math and science for the
balance of that year and then the principal there was
wanting to put in driver education program which at that
time was just getting started. There was one program in
the county at that time. It was in Palm Beach High. The
principal asked me if I would go off to summer school and
get certified to teach it, then initiate the program there
at Lake Worth High and they also wanted to put it into Sea
Crest High which is the school that served Boynton, Boynton
Beach and Delray and divided my time between those two
schools. So, I, at the last minute, at the end of the
school year of 1950, I came up to Florida 'State University
and went to summer school and took the necessary course to
be certified in driver education and then went back and
taught school and divided my time between Lake Worth High
and Sea Crest High and it was with that process by coming
in contact with the Florida Highway Patrol to give my
driver exams to my students. At the beginning of a course,
you had to give the written test and then at the end of a
semester course, they would come back and give the road
test to my students. It was that contact that I first
really had, knew that there was a Highway Patrol, of
course I was aware that there was one, but it was the first
opportunity that I had to really know anything about it and
coincidentally, the person that made those arrangements for
me was L. Conklin.
He was a Sergeant in charge of the little West Palm Beach
Office at that time which was just a little small building
behind the courthouse in West Palm and, eh, it so happened
that Joe Cook was also a Trooper in that area at that time,
and he came to my classes as well. As it has turned out,
those, those other two men have ended their careers and are
in Tallahassee and we are good friends after all these many
years and they were my first contact of the Highway Patrol,
JMR: Both of them have retired from the Patrol?
RCC: That is correct So, in the, in those contacts, I became
interested in the Patrol. It was apparent that while I
loved to teach school, the opportunity for salary increases
and advancement and so on in the Patrol, in school teaching
wasn't all that it needed to be. I guess it never is, and
it, I felt the need to look around for, and for another
career and I began to ask questions. That summer, or,
spring I should say, the legislature, authorized an
increase in the patrol. There were new positions available
and they were looking for more people.
JMR: What year are we talking about Colonel Collar?
RCC: That was in the spring of 1951, and, eh,, so I began to
inquire about the Patrol, its career opportunities appealed
to me. They had a good retirement plan, the salary was a
little better, the increases in pay went up in five years
on the Patrol at about the same rate that it took you
fifteen years to go up as a school teacher and I just
thought well that looks to me as though, I would really
enjoy that kind of career, so I applied and through
that summer, after I finished teaching, I had made that
decision and, I was accepted and went into the Eighth
Recruit class that began in August of 1951 at Eglin Air
Force Base, that, actually, the dates of that class were
from August 26, '51 through October 4. In those days we
got paid, eh, $75.00 a month while attending Recruit
School, didn't get any additional salary. We, of course,
got room and board and $75.00 and then, we, when we
finished the school on the 4th, we were eh, ordered to
report to duty at our assignments on October 10th. We were
given off that period in between and my starting salary at
that time was $275.00 a month. I was assigned to
Tallahassee, eh, which back at that time was a part of the
old Troop A, excuse me the old western Division of the
Patrol. We did not have Troop designations at that time.
We had the southern, central, northern and western division
of the Patrol. Captain Tobe Bass was the man in charge of
the old western division.
JMR: And where was he assigned to, stationed?
RCC: And he was assigned in Panama City, so my assignment, I had
to report to duty to Headquarters in Panama City and
Sergeant Tom Errin who was in charge of the Tallahassee
District of that western division was over and met me on my
reporting date and brought me back to Tallahassee where my
JMR: Now, he met you where?
RCC: He, at the Headquarters in Panama City and so we rode back
in the car together from Panama City to Tallahassee on that
October 10, date of 1951. I remember that ride with Tom
because that really was my first real ride in a patrol
car. I had been through recruit School, had my hands on
the wheel a little bit during the training program and so
on and we had been through the radio training part of it.
We had learned all of our ten signals and so on but that
was really my first experience in listening to the Patrol
radio and eh, it was, and I remember the difficult I had in
understanding the, what was going on after having studied
it all that time, that's, that's a vivid experience in my
JMR: Colonel, lets go back and talk about some of your recruit
training, now where, where did, this took place at.
RCC: At Eglin Air Force Base.
JMR: Lets talk about that, what was the type of training and eh,
the curriculum that you recall you, of course being very
familiar with the training curriculum in later years, how
did it differ at Eglin from what was, the curriculum in
most recent schools in which you were involved?
RCC: Well, I would say it was the Corp curriculum that was used
throughout the years, It was accident investigation, it was
laws of evidence. It was studying the law. We had
firearms training, we had first aid training and we had for
example, speech. We had an association at that time with
people from Florida State University some professors who
came and I remember having a brief course. I don't
remember now how many hours it was, a brief course on
speech and it was taught by an FSU speech professor. I
remember that an assistant Attorney General, George Owens,
who is still here in Tallahassee, and a friend of mine came
and handled subject matter with regard to the law and laws
of evidence. Bodie Jordan was instructor in the Academy at
that, Captain Hall was the Commander of the Training
Academy. I remember that Bodie Jordan was, who was a
Sergeant at that time in Marianna and taught the Rules of
Evidence. Lt. Joe Hagans who later was Troop Commander. A
Captain Joe Hagans taught first aid as he did for many
years. He was, many of the people early on in the Patrol
know him as the long time first aid instructor.
Lieutenant,. I believe he was still a Lieutenant at that
time, Lee Simmons taught accident investigation in my
JMR: And, what, Colonel Simmons, he was eventaully a.
RCC: He was eventually, he retired as Deputy Director. He
became a Captain in charge of the southern division or
Troop E, then was brought to Tallahassee and was a long
time Inspector. He, with the rank of Major here in General
JMR: What was the length of the class, at Eglin, Colonel?
RCC: Six weeks. Wait a minute, its from August 26th to October
the 4th, so that would have been 8 weeks, 8 weeks.
JMR: Did anyone other than just FHP personnel attend that class?
RCC: Yes, we had an arrangements with the Air Force, Colonel
Kirkman was retired and a reserve person in the Air Force
and had a good rapport with the people in the military.
Eh, they had an air police squadron at Eglin Air Force Base
and he made arrangements for us to have some facilities
right in the area there, police at Eglin, where they, we
were in their barracks. They had a chow hall, dining hall
that gave us food and for whatever fee the State paid for
those accommodations and in return, we also made
availablesome positions, some chairs as it were, in our
Academy for people in their Air Police Squadron to go
through that training program with us. They took advantage
of that and did so for several training schools while we
were in Eglin and as a matter of fact, I cannot tell you
the number but a few of the people that came on the Patrol
received their training while they were in the Air Force at
that time and after they were discharged, they applied for
and were employed by the Highway Patrol at a later time.
JMR: I believe that Sergeant Anderson was one of them, was he
RCC: Sergeant Earl Anderson was one of those people, that's
JMR: Colonel, in the meantime, you were on the way back from
Panama City, after reporting over at the Headquarters, had
you at that time, had you met Miss Marjorie at that time or
at what point did this take place. I want, we want to talk
RCC: Yea, we, eh, I started going with my wife, Marjorie, while
we were still in high school.
JMR: What is her full name?
RCC: Her name is Marjorie Ruth Protiba Collar.
JMR: Want to spell it?
RCC: Protiba is P R O T I B A. She moved to Lake Worth from
Pontiac, Michigan when she was a ninth grader. Her dad
had, he was a stock and bonds broker in Pontiac, Michigan
and had a couple of serious heart attacks and had to leave
that part of the country. -They moved to Lake Worth and,
eh, when we were freshmen in high school and we started
going together while we were juniors in high school and we
married, she went back to the University of Michigan after
we graduated, went three years there while I had been in
the service one year and gone through Junior College for
two years, eh, we decided to get married in 19, in the
summer of 1948, and then we both finished at Miami. She
had only one more year to go and I had two academic years
to finish. We started going in the summer so I actually
finished, by going straight through, I finished in a year
and a half but, that's how long we have been together.
JMR: Thats great. Do you have any children, Colonel Collar?
RCC: We have five, the first one was on the way, Marj was
pregnant while I was in Patrol School and our oldest
daughter was born New Year's Day, 1952, and our fifth child
was born in September of 1959, so we had five in that
period, rather close together.
JMR: We would like to know their names.
RCC: Our oldest daughter is Maryily and the next daughter was
Linda, then we had our son, by the name of Paul, then our
fourth child, Susan, and then our youngest is Virginia.
JMR: Thats great. I know that you are equally proud of all of
JMR: Absolutely, all right, sir, now, we have got you coming
back for Eglin and you were listening to the radio to
Tallahasssee. Lets pick up from there now.
RCC: Well I just commented on that because it is a vivid
experience after going through our training program and so
on, I am sure everybody who had been on the Patrol has some
of those early things that made a significant expression on
them. I was assigned to Tallahassee and frankly was a
little disappointed. I was born and raised in South
Florida and was hopefully that I might get back in that
area. At that time the policy would not permit returning
to your home county but you never the less could get in an
adjoining county, some place back in the general area or
region you were from and I had been here to that summer
school before going on the Patrol and it was significantly
different from the area where I had been raised and I was
hoping to go back to my home area but I was selected as one
who, I had the highest grade average in my class and as
kind of an honor for doing that they had selected me to be
assigned to Tallahassee. There were a couple of positions
here. Eldridge Beach and I both got sent to Tallahassee as
the two rookies out of that class to fill a couple of
positions in Tallahassee, so while it was an honor to come
here and I knew that career wise, it would be an advantage
because this was where the seat of government was and where
our headquarters was. I was, at the same time, I was a
little disappointed. Let me assure you that soon changed
and I was delighted to be here and it is a great place to
live and I want to spend the rest of my days here, but that
was my impression at the time and another unusual thing, I
suppose that some place or with other people somewhere,
they may have spent their whole career in one place but as
far as I know, I am the only one that I know about who has
spent his whole career in one place on the Highway Patrol
from the time he came on as a rookie until he retired.
JMR: And that is noteworthy. When You reported to Tallahassee,
was there a patrol station?
RCC: Yes, the patrol station in 1951, was out at the edge of the
highway where the Neil Kirkman Building is now. It was on
top of a hill out here with our antenna right behind it and
a fair amount of vacant land out behind it. There were,
there was one little building out behind the patrol station
and it later was added on to with a couple of, two or three
additions at a later time as we began to grow. Then when
they decided in the late 50's to build a headquarters
building and move from the old Martin Building downtown, we
used the property that was behind the Patrol Station and,
eh, of course in later years as the headquarters expanded,
then that station was abandoned and torn down and a new one
was build in another location over on the highway and, eh,
so I reported in to that old Patrol Station in 1951, which
was a part of the western division and it, soon after I was
here, it got redesignated as the headquarters section and
had an independent status from the other divisions. A
Lieutenant in charge and was not a part of other troops,
but really while not being called a division, it had a
separate, an independent and then not long after that, we
rearranged structure a little bit and used different names,
we then came up with a troop designations, with districts
JMR: The general headquarters was located, for the state, was
located where now during this time.
RCC: The general headquarters for the state was in the Martin
Building, in downtown Tallahassee about a block north of
the Capital on Adams Street. The, what was then the
Department of Motor Vehicles had the upper floors of that
building and what was then the Department of Public Safety,
which we were at that time, was in the basement of that old
Martin Building and, eh, we were there until the Kirkman
Building was built in the late 50's. I cannot give you the
exact date that we started, I would say around 1958, it may
have started constructing the Martin, the Kirkman Building,
and, eh, I am not sure, that may have been closer to the
date we moved in, I am not sure about that.
JMR: The Director of the Highway Patrol, during that time was...
RCC: Colonel Kirkman, right.
JMR: And his initials?
RCC: H. N. Kirkman.
JMR: Did, did we have a Deputy Director or assistant director at
that time, Colonel Collar?
RCC: The designation for the number two man at that time was
Executive Officer and Jay Wallace Smith had that position.
He was a Major at the time that I came on the Patrol. He
had been a Captain in that position and he was designated
as Executive Officer. Soon after I came on, they
established a new position of Chief of the Patrol and
Captain Red Martin who had been the Troop Commander
although at that time we didn't call them troops, in the
central division, in Lakeland, was designated Chief and he
moved to Tallahassee. Not long after that he retired. I
cannot give you the exact date of that and that's when Reid
Clifton, was, who had been commander of the southern
division in Miami, later to become Troop E, was brought to
Tallahassee to take that position and that all occurred
while we were in the Martin Building.
JMR: Do you recall how many troopers or uniform personnel that
was on board at that time when you came to Tallahassee out
RCC: Eh, I am sorry I don't. I cannot recall those figures. I
can tell you that when I first came on, we went to, our ID
numbers were the same as the license tags that we used on
our patrol cars, so that it was not a personnel ID number.
Whatever car you were working in was the number that you
used, but in the early 50's, I would say by 1953, we went
to an ID system of assigning ID numbers. It may have been
even before 1953, but at any rate, my first ID number and I
was at that time, relatively new man, was 146. Understand
that ID numbers were by seniority and then if they were all
equal in time, the designation was by alphabetical order if
you came on at the same time and so there, the numbers did
not go much beyond that at the time of those designations.
JMR: What was the patrol car that you were first assigned? What
make was it, year, do you recall?
RCC: It was a 1951 Ford, eh, 2 door sedan, eh, back in those
days, the basic patrol car were, was 2 door. A rookie
could not have a brand new car, that was just general
policy so that if it so happened that you were coming on as
a rookie and they were having to get new cars, as they did
at the time our group came, our class finished. They
reassigned us a car that had been in use and gave the newer
car to an older man and the car I received was FHP 151,
151, it had been used by Jack Dorsey who had been in
Wakulla County and was shortly after I was assigned here
moved to Tallahassee also. He had been injured previously
in a wreck and was on some limited duty and recuperating,
but he had a new 51' Ford and when they got additional new
cars, I received the one he had been using and then he got
another new one.
JMR: What kind of accessories were on those cars at that time?
RCC: We had an overdrive, eh, we had heaters that we had up
under the dash and that were transferred from one car to
the next. They did not even have those in south Florida,
just the cars in central and north Florida that had heaters
and when you would finish up with a car, part of the
stripping process was to take the heater out of and move it
to the new car. It had a spotlight and it, of course, had
a red siren on the top light. The siren was a part of the
light that faced forward and was red and had a small red
light on the back side of it that could been seen from the
rear and the tail lights were hooked up, the brake lights
were hooked with a separate switch to flash, you could pull
them on to make them flash. The switch was different from
the overhead light. At that time, Ford Motor Company had
been making police pursuit cars and they, that was a
relatively new thing, it got started in the 49' models, I
believe and they beefed up the engines, they gave a little
larger radiator. They little better suspension system
and it gave us a little more speed than the average, than
the regular model car of that era.
JMR: Were you allowed to take the car home with you following
the end of your shift?
RCC: Yes, that was routine. Everybody on the Patrol at that
time was expected to be available to respond to calls at
any time and in most areas, the staffing was limited enough
so that you usually had either a late call or a an early
call responsibility. If you were on the late shift, and I
might say that the work period was basically a 12 hour day,
6 days a week and then 14 hours, everybody worked on
Saturday. No one had a Saturday or a Sunday off and
because of the amount of the police work needed on Saturday
nights, the, we all were assigned 14 hour days on Saturday
and 12 hours at other times and understand that also during
those periods we got meal breaks so that two meal periods
out of those hours were part of the responsibility and in
our case here, usually when you had the late shift, you
were on call for any wreck that would happen after you went
home at midnight, until 6 a.m. and the early shift person
who usually came out around 8 in this particular area would
begin the responsibility for receiving wreck calls
beginning at 6 and perhaps come to work at 8 o'clock.
JSM: O.K., sir, you served as a trooper then in Leon County for
how long and then tell us about your steps now as you begin
your career with the Patrol?
RCC: I was just a trooper here and worked in Leon County for the
basic Patrol responsibility from that October date of 1951
until the summer of 1953. In July, I was designated as
troop safety officer. Actually, we called them troop
safety education officers back at that time, and I had the
responsibility for the headquarters section as the safety
officer, safety education officer here in the, I believe in
this six county area of headquarters section. I did work
with the schools, driver education classes, gave talks and
showed films to civic clubs and all the kind of things that
safety officers have been doing over the years but that, I
was not, the, in the first group of people who, there were
some designated safety education officers in the patrol,
beginning back before I came on. I cannot give you the
date of the first one that had been active and doing that
kind of work for at least two or three years before I came
JMR: But you were the first for Tallahassee district or for this
RCC: No, there was a fellow by the name of Wally Evans who had
that responsibility before I did. He was gone by the time
I got to Tallahassee and he had been doing work in the
western division and living in Tallahassee, but he had left
the Patrol before I came on.
JMR: And you served in this capacity for how long now, sir:
RCC: In 1955, well, prior to that in 50, I cannot give you the
exact date that I was moved into general headquarters to
take over the responsibility of the Florida Citizens Safety
Council. There had been an organization in this State that,
of citizens that had formed a safety council for the State
and it had received some funding from state government,
there had been appropriation for that group and the
Legislature perhaps in 1953, specified that work was to be
supported by their funds and at a later time, when the,
there was requirement that our agency take over and support
it. They moved me out of the troop, safety education
responsibility, put me in general headquarters and had me
as the acting head of the safety council for the State, and
it really was because the person who had been the executive
director of that organization resigned. There were state
funds that had to be administered and in an effort to
support that organization,it was given to our agency to do
that and Colonel Kirkman wanted me to come in and staff
that organization or to head it up and I did so. The next,
in 1955, that session changed things around so that there
was no support for that organization in that same way but
they designated a position in the Governor's Office for
Traffic Safety Coordinator and specified that the person to
fill that roll would be, have the rank of Lieutenant with
the Highway Patrol, and so I was designated, Governor
Collins was in office at that time.
JMR: Governor Leroy Collins?
RCC: Thats correct, and I was selected to be the person to fill
that spot that was specified in law so I was assigned to
the Governor's Office as Traffic Safety Coordinator.
JMR: In the Capital Building?
RCC: In the Capital, in the Governor's Office itself. I was
there and it was like being an administrative assistant in
the Governor's Office for traffic safety manners, matters.
I was there for five years. In 1960, I returned to General
headquarters and was assigned back here to assist in the
safety education work. At that time, Carl Adams, had
records and Safety Education responsibility within the
Department at the staff level. He also needed, he was
doing lobbying responsibilities for the Department.
JMR: Was he a member of the Patrol?
RCC: He was a member of the Patrol. He was a Captain at that
time and he needed some help and so Colonel Kirkman got
permission, really from the Governor and asked if it would
be all right to move me back to general headquarters for
that purpose and that was agreed to and so I was assigned
back, I was still a Lieutenant at that time, still had the
basic position that I had had before in the Governor's
Office and maintained that official position and so I begin
to help with, really safety, basically safety education
work and I also helped in the lobbying aspects for the
Department. I had begun to work with the Legislature while
I was in the Governor's Office as one of my
responsibilities, I worked with legislative committees and
that sort of thing on behalf of the Governor's interest in
traffic safety and begin my Legislative association at that
time and then I continued to do that on behalf of the
Department after I returned working with Captain Carl Adams
and at time, the Legislature was still meeting bi-annual,
you know once every two years and, so it didn't become as
big a job or as long a job as it did in later years as they
met every year and begin having more and more committee
meetings. So while I was in the Governor's Office, I not
only served on that staff position but I also carried on
and did staff work for several annual Governor's Highway
Safety Conferences that were held in the State, working
with other safety councils, local safety councils around
the state with youth safety organizations, there were
several years in which we put on some rather successful
safety councils or safety conferences, Governor's Highway
Safety Conferences, actually begin doing that, before I got
assigned to the Governor's Office while I was still in the
capacity of heading up that Florida Safety Council
organization, that had been one of the functions of that
and so I carried that on after that, that organizational
structure had changed and I carried that on as part of my
responsibilities in the Governor's Office. I cannot tell
you now, when the last one of those may have been held.
They phased out while I was still in the Governor's
Office. They felt that we would drop that and not continue
that effort toward the end of my tenure in the Governor's
JMR: At that time had the Patrol been divided into Troops or did
RCC: Yes, but I cannot, I do not recall now, we would have to do
some other research to identify the time, just when that
troop designation took place, organizational structure. I
don't know just what that year was.
JMR: When you came to the Department or to the building here, or
to headquarters rather from the Governor's Office, had
there been establishment of a safety officer position in
RCC: Yes, by that time, there was one in every troop and some of
the larger troops were assigned two safety officers. One
of the things that happened after I returned to general
headquarters and assisted with safety education work and
with other matters in general headquarters, I was assigned
to head up that safety education effort, and I recall that
there were 12 safety education officers. The number grew
to that. I don't know at what point it grew to that, but
that included .
JMR: This is a continuation of the oral interview of Colonel
Roger Collar on January 11, 1989. Colonel Collar lets talk
about your days that you serving as an instructor in the
Academy. I know you were quite active in this during, for
many years, tell us about this.
RCC: When the Academy was moved from Eglin Air Force Base to the
old west campus at Florida State University, and I was here
in Tallahassee, of course, I begin some instructor
responsibilities there. I taught accident investigation
for many years to each of the recruit classes. Probably, I
don't know the exact date of those classes, but it was 55'
or 6 and for, on through a good many years after that,
probable on up until it seems to me, perhaps 19, in the
'70, late '60's or '70's, I would have been teaching that
course and I taught, actually, inaugurated some safe
driving courses for the Patrol, working with Tom Seals who,
I had known Tom Seals back in some training that I had
gotten with New York University Traffic Safety Management
courses that I had attended earlier in my career and Tom
had been working with the Association of Casualty Surety
Companies as a specialist in Driver Ed and so when we began
to have some concern about some of the accidents that we
were having on the Patrol and what we could do about it, it
appeared that the thing to do was to provide some special
training for some of our people and so we, I was given that
responsibility and I got a hold of Tom and ask him if he
would come help organize such a week long training course.
I had previously been a driver Ed teacher and was somewhat
familiar about with how to go about and what to do and Tom
was very helpful in this regard and we established a
curriculum and set up the program and Tom helped teach the
first school and then we had a series of schools and
started out with people who had previously had accidents on
the Patrol and then after going through two or three of
those, we made that training program or class, a part of
the recruit curriculum. Actually added a week to the
patrol school in the process. It started out by putting at
the first part of the patrol training program, the recruit
training program because we thought we would generally
introduce recruits to the traffic safety aspects in general
and then get into the more specific training program.
Later, we felt that it was better to put it at the end of
the police training program because it was so timely in
connection with their preparation for going out to drive
our vehicles and if that was about the last thing they
dealt with in the Academy, then that was fresher on their
minds for applying the principles and so on to their
driving as they started their Patrol work, so that along
with some other special courses were some things that I did
in the Training Academy over a good many years as a part of
the staff work in instruction for troopers and incidentally
I got to know and meet a high percentage of the people, of
course, that came on the Patrol and went through the Patrol
training program. Also, for years I served on the oral
interview board of the Patrol and in that way got to meet
those applicants and have an early impression of them as
they applied for and approached their Patrol careers.
JMR: In the 50's, you were assigned to, or late 50's rather, you
were assigned to GHQ and you were working with Major Adams
now and you were working with the safety education program
statewide during that time. What took place that make a
change in what you were doing and your responsibilities?
RCC: After I came back to General Headquarters?
JMR: Yes sir.
RCC: In 1963, there was some reorganization of staff positions,
in that some new positions were created and realignment and
that sort of thing. Captain Adams, was Carl Adams was
promoted to Major and designated as Administrative Officer
as I recall and I was given the position that he had held
and designated Chief Safety Education Officer and promoted
to the rank of Captain. That was in August of 1963 so I
continued as a as the person responsible for safety
education and public information effort working with the
safety officers throughout the State and working with the
public information effort that animated from general
headquarters. Early on, I think it was prior to this time,
we established within the State, it may have been while I
was still in the Governor's Office, I don't have those
files before me and I can't tell you the exact year, on how
many years it went on, we established what we called, I
can't think of the name of it, it was the military
association in traffic safety with the civilian authorities
in traffic safety.
JMR: Military workshop.
RCC: Yea, we called it the Armed Forces State of Florida Traffic
Safety Work Shop, terrible name, it was very long but it
was descriptive to what it was and I did the staff work
that really created that organization and was, Colonel
Kirkman was designated officially the chairman of that
organization and I was designated as the Secretary Treasury
which meant that I was doing the leg work and doing the
corresponding and the organizational effort for that. That
went on for perhaps 15 years and for most of that time, I
had that same position even as I changed some positions,
some responsibilities within my career to do that. It was
a good working relationship for us in the Department with
the military people at the various bases in Florida and we
held to begin with semi-annual conferences throughout the
State and later changed that to annual conferences and
usually the military installations in the State took turns
at serving as hosts to those meetings so that we traveled
to the various locations of those bases throughout Florida
over a period of time. So while I was involved in that
staff work of safety education I also took on at a later
time, the Records and Training responsibilities. I was in
1969 promoted, this would have been in January of 1969,
promoted to Major and was Chief of Records, let me correct
this. In January of 1969,. I was promoted to Major and
designated as planning officer. I was the first person in
the Department who was designated as a planning officer and
I ran that small office with a couple of assistance for
perhaps two years, well, the best part of a year and then
in October of 1969, I was designated as Chief of the Bureau
of Records and Training that was at a time when the State
government done some reorganization as well and people
were then creating Divisions and Bureaus and sections, the
Bureau Chiefs and that sort of thing and while I was still
Major, I was designated Chief of Records and Training and
had those responsibilities here within General Headquarters
JMR: How did the reorganization affect the Highway Patrol,
RCC: Well, it general it shifted titles as much as anything and
structured things in order to comply with what other
agencies were doing in State government. They, the
Department of Administration was given a wider
responsibility throughout the State government and they
examined job descriptions and specified what job titles
would be. They were not interested for example in the
Patrol in whatever ranks we had. They were particular
interested in specifying certain titles for the position,
The ranks to them were rather incidental and they weren't
concerned with them so we had a job to try to make what had
been compatible with what the new organizational structure
for the State was in terms of job titles and that sort of
thing. There was some awkward things that made it a little
difficult but all in all, that worked out O.K.
JMR: In 69' when State government reorganized, it affected the
Department of Public Safety, at that time' and to some
diversions as far as divisions, do you recall what took
effect during that time?
RCC: Well at reorganization time in state government, of course,
is when the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department
of Public Safety were combined to create the Department of
Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Also, the Financial
Responsibility Division that had been in the State
Insurance Commissioner's Office was brought into this
agency Now, frankly I am not confident that occurred
immediately, that may have been done at a little later
time. But, at any rate, that had been in another agency
and later wound up in this agency. The effort, the
legislatures were anxious to reduce the number of agencies
of State government and so while we had been two separate
agencies in Motor Vehicles, the tag department and the
Department of Public Safety which had Patrol and the Driver
Licenses Division, all of these were combined in one
JMR: Was there a separate division created for the driver
RCC: Yes, the new organizational effort, of course created the
Division of Highway Patrol, the Division of Driver License
and the Division of Motor Vehicles.
JMR: When you were given the responsibility or the title as
Chief of Records and Training, of course this put you in
charge of the training at the Academy and also with the
safety education responsibilities, you also at that time
took on another responsibility which was begun
back in 67 and that was the promotional examinations.
Describe for us Colonel Collar, just you know,in your own
words, what was the difference in the way a person was
promoted after the administration or prior to, just what did
this do for the Patrol?
RCC: Well, back prior to that time, promotions were strictly
upon recommendations from field staff on up the ladder to
the Director who made promotions just by his selection.
Back at an earlier time, in the early days of the Patrol,
there had been a limited written promotional examination
period before I came on the Patrol. It was abandoned after
a try or two. I cannot give you, I can't describe for you
what that was or what the problems were or why they didn't
maintain that but in this period that you are describing or
asking about, they wanted to establish a program that would
make promotions on the basis of competition exams. That
was at a time when Carl Adams still had the responsibility
here in general headquarters, I cannot remember whether he
had become administrative officer, in fact, when I was
first promoted, I had that title for a little while as well
when I took his spot, beginning, soon after I was appointed
Major and at that time, I was still working for him, under
his supervision and he asked me to gather information from
other states about the promotional exam programs and we
wrote to several and got a look at what others were doing
and we began to write the procedures, the rules and
procedures for the promotional exams. I worked on that and
did so. After we got to the point where that had been
approved and got ready to write the exams themselves, I did
not take part in writing the first exam because I was a
Captain. Well, let me take that back, I am not sure, I
may have been still, well at any rate, whether I was a
Lieutenant or a Captain, I was available to be promoted so
I could not write the exam. So Carl Adams actually
composed and wrote the first exams and after I got
promoted, one of my responsibilities was to take over that
promotional exam system and then I continued up until the
time I was promoted to Deputy Director to be the
promotional officer and to administer the promotional exam
program and compose the promotional exam and that sort of
thing so that the new system gave points for the scores
that were made on written exams. They were given points
for the evaluations that the, each person received in his
work from his supervisor. They were seniority points that
were factored into the formula and there was for the upper
ranks, there were oral interview, oral interviews, that had
points that were factored in. So this begin a program that
tried to treat promotion more objectively than they had
been treated previously and would bring about a system of
promoting people on the basis of their merit and their
knowledge on a much fairer basis than had been done
JMR: The test were administered how many times a year?
RCC: Once a year.
JMR: And were they administered in one place for the entire
RCC: To begin with the promotional exams were administered here
in Tallahassee. At a later time, when that became more
awkward and as we got larger and more people involved, more
difficult to do, we administered those tests at several
locations around the State and did so and arranged it so
that were done simultaneous and we had representatives of
general headquarters who would take sealed packets of
promotional exams and go to previously designated places in
the State and administer them at the same hour in various
locations of the State.
JMR: And they were administered for the ranks of
RCC: Well, all promotions through the rank of Major to begin
with and at a later time, that was reduced to the rank of
Captain so that the Major was selected not on the basis of
promotional exams. At a later time, I was promoted to
Major on the basis of promotional exam system and some time
after that that was changed so that only people through the
rank of Captain so that was Corporal through Captain and
then there were later changes on, in later years where the
Department of Administration became involved in the
promotional system in developing test questions. It was
administering under their auspices. That also, part of
that was at the request of the labor organization, in part
of the bargaining process, they wanted to make it more, as
objectively as it could be and they felt that it would be,
it was their contention that it would be more objectively
if it were even of the hands of the leadership of the
Patrol for those positions that were in the bargaining area
that it reduced the number of tests that were handled
within the administration of the Patrol to those for the
position of Lieutenant and above.
JRR: During that time, what was the rank structure of the
RCC: Well, the first, it was trooper and then Corporal,
Sergeant, First Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and Major and
then of course after that, there was the Deputy Director,
who was the Lieutenant Colonel. To begin with, at a later
time, there was an official designation for the Director to
Colonel, but to begin with, there was not. Colonel Kirkman
was not a Colonel by virtue of the law that came later.
Colonel Kirkman was a retired Colonel from the military and
was called and designated. He was Colonel on that basis.
At a later time, that was written into the law. I can't, I
don't recall now, just when that was. Also, after the
beginning there was a designation of trooper II which was a
specialized job and was a promotion but it was not done on
the basis of promotional exams. The first promotion by
promotional exam was for Corporal.
JMR: What was the responsibility of a Trooper II.
RCC: He was a homicide investigator was the original designation
for him and we also used that for some other designation
for other responsibility. I can't remember what it was.
JMR: Who, Colonel Kirkman was the Director of the Patrol during
those years Colonel Collar, do you recall the year that
Colonel Kirkman passed away?
RCC: No I don't. I cannot tell you exactly.
JMR: O.K. sir, Colonel Clifton served as Director, Reid Clifton
of the Patrol, do you recall what year he went into that
RCC: At reorganization time, when the Department of Highway
Safety and Motor Vehicles was created which was what?
JMR: Yes sir.
RCC: Colonel Kirkman became the Executive Director of the
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Colonel
Reid Clifton who had been Lt. Colonel and Deputy Director
of the Highway Patrol became the Director of the Highway
Patrol and was promoted to Colonel, full Colonel. That was
as a result of that reorganization structure.
JMR: Colonel Clifton served as Director then until.
RCC: Until he retired.
JMR: All right sir, do you recall what year this was?
RCC: No, I don't. I would..No, I don't.
JMR: You were a Major and serving as the Chief of Record and
Training, what changes took place after you had changed
that responsibility, what was your title and your position
RCC: As Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Records and Training, I
still had safety education, public information, which dealt
with having news releases and dealing with the
press on matters of that kind. I, also, the Academy and the
training program that was carried on at the Academy was part
of my responsibility and here in general headquarters the
records Section was under that Bureau, Accident Records and
Patrol records that had almost from the beginning of the
Patrol been maintained and that was part of that
JMR: All right, sir and your next promotion involved what,
RCC: When Colonel Simmons retired in 1978, was promoted to
Deputy Director, the official that's the term that had been
used for many years since it was created really, back in
the '50s sometime but in the reorganization, technically,
that was a designated position as assistant director of the
Patrol and promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel, that was on
the first of February 1978.
JMR: What was Colonel Simmons' first name and his middle
RCC: That was Colonel H. Lee Simmons, Harvey Lee Simmons, Hardy
JMR: Hardy Lee, yes sir. O.K. sir, you were promoted to Deputy
Director, give me that date again, Colonel Collar.
RCC: February 1, 1978.
JMR: What your primary or your responsibility in this capacity:
RCC: Well, that's really, I was the number two man in the Patrol
and it was to assist the Director, who at that time was
Colonel Beach and ..
His first name and initial?
RCC: Colonel J. E. Beach, Eldridge Beach and I was his assistant
and the organizational chart showed a direct path for other
members of the Patrol coming to me and then on. I was the
person directly under him so that others came through me to
him so that all matters pertaining to Patrol were all the
other Bureau Chiefs, we were at that time a Division,
Bureau Chiefs were responsible to me, going through me to
the Director so that I was involved in administrating the
the Patrol, the field command and the general headquarters
and all things within the Patrol.
JMR: You served in that capacity for how long Colonel Collar:
RCC: Well, there was some reorganization after that but I was
still a Lt. Colonel and Deputy Director or assistant
Director until I retired at the end of 1983. In the summer
of 1982, Colonel Beach and I was designated acting Director
for a period of about six months until Colonel Bobby
Burkett was designated Director, the new Director for the
Patrol and I was still Deputy Director at that point and
continued in that position. There was some, a little
reorganization after that. During I believe, in July or
June perhaps of 1983, when we added another position of
Deputy Director and we divided the State at that point and
I was designated the Deputy Director for southern field
command at that point and had that until, that position
until I retired in 83, at the end of 83.
JMR: Colonel Collar, you have had a rather, you have had a very
rewarding career with the Highway Patrol and I don't know
of anyone that is any more well known that you have been
over the years. I think everybody knew
Colonel Collar. It started back when it was Lt. Collar,
right on up through the ranks and it goes without my saying,
other people will certainly say it, you made your
contribution, and made a contribution to the Highway
Patrol. How do you feel about the Patrol.
RCC: Love it, great career, I often reflect back, we talked about
my decision to leave school teaching and come on the
Patrol. I often reflect back on that and say how glad I am
that I made that decision and that I selected this career.
It was a very rewarding experience. One that meant a great
deal to me. It was certainly a great thing to be a part of
an organization like the Patrol and you know, I remember as
I was leaving the Patrol and reflecting upon that somewhat,
it was, that I had a sense of significant accomplishment to
be a part of a program that had reduced the mileage death
rate from the time that I came on that was 8.7 deaths per
100 million miles traveled on our highways in 1951 until the
time that I retired, the data that was available then was
that there were 3.4 deaths per hundred million miles. Out
whole struggle and our whole purpose was to try to prevent
deaths and injury on those highways and reduce accidents and
to be a part of that and to have that kind of purpose in
what we do
in our work meant a great deal to me. I had a lot of great
people that I associated with over those years, and great
opportunities and it was a very rewarding experience. It is
unfortunate that everyone can't enjoy that kind of
experience in the things that they do. It can mean so much
to their lives and as I, of course, am retired now and I
look back on that, it was, it is with many fond memories and
a great good feeling for that career.
JMR: Give me the dates you returned on again, Colonel Collar.
RCC: It was the last day of December of 1983. I retired at the
end of 1983. The first day of retirement was January 1,
JMR: And tell me in less than 2 words what you have been doing
RCC: In less than 2 words, I play a lot of golf.
JMR: I thought so, I think we got 4 words I was thinking of
playing golf, and that is just great and Miss Marjorie has
RCC: Yes, she retired, she was, after she got through raising
all of those children and they got started in school, she
went back to teaching school. We both taught school out of
college and after we started having youngsters, she did not
teach for a period there and then after the children got up
in age, she begin, she went back to teaching and she has
since retired so we are both retired now.
JMR: Thats great. Colonel, is there anything else that you
would like to say or can think of that would add to what
has already been said?
RCC: No, perhaps I have ambled on more than I should but I am
delighted that we are making an effort to accumulate the
thoughts of many people who have been in the Patrol back
over the years because I find that this drifts away rather
easily not only in my on mind but in while I have heard
other people relate stories and incidents of things that
occurred in the early years, I find even my own experience
begin to drift away and its a good thing, I think to set
those down even though we, inaudible,that we understand
them now and a few years from now, we may not and that
helps to create a better
history than we have ever had before. To bad that we
couldn't have done this at an earlier time when more people
who were available for the very early years. I was in the
eighth recruit class in 1951. The Patrol at that time was
only 12 years old and I did not realize really at that time
that that constituted being pretty near the beginning.
JMR: Yes indeed.
RCC: As I look back now, of course after 50 years of the Patrol
that does seem to be near the beginning. so it has been
great for me to have that experience and I feel very
fortunate for having had that for being with some of the
great people in State government, working with the
Legislature that I did over the many years, with Cabinet
officers, and being a part of the Governor's Office. The
Cabinet had a resolution for me when I retired that really
was very meaningful to me and very rewarding to have that.
So, I was associated here in general headquarters with
many, many people over a long period of time. I had the
good fortune to be in the Academy and be a part of the
hiring process in the oral interview process and so on so
that I saw a good percentage of the people and got to know
good percentage of the people that came on the Patrol for a
substantial period of time and those kind of memories and
relationship that were established they are certain very
JMR: Indeed they are. Well, on behalf of Director Burkett,
Colonel Collar, let me say again, thank you so much for
taking your time to participate in this program and I can
only say from a personal standpoint that you have been
someone who has been, that I have looked up to for many
many years and you have certainly given me some good advise
and some good guidance and I wish you and Miss Marjorie the
best of luck and thanks again.
RCC: Thank you.