DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY REPORT
Interview with GEORGE F. POSTON
Employed with FHP June 1959 Present
Interviewed by Ray Peterson
Date Interviewed February 8, 1989
This is a recorded interview with GEORGE F. POSTON
My name is RAY PETERSON
The interview is being recorded at the Law Firm of (UNK) P.A.
The time is ten minutes after eight AM, and this is part of the
FHP Oral History Project.
RP: I'm gonna call you Frank because....
GFP: That's good.
RP: (HA)..OK. Okay, As you know Frank, the FHP will observe
its 50th Anniversary in 1989. This interview will establish
your knowledge of and obtain your input in the past history
of the Patrol. Please give me your name for our files.
GFP: It's George Franklin Poston.
RP: And, Frank what date did you start with the FHP?
GFP: Ray I started as a Trooper' September the first, Nineteen
Sixty Three. I actually went to work as a dispatcher for
Troop K in June of 1959. At that time, however, we were
actually paid by the Florida State Turnpike authority (the
dispatchers were), but we worked directly under the control
of the Troop Commander. Ahh..We were sort of a..a strange
position. Actually we were..were employees for the Highway
Patrol but were paid by the Turnpike authority. So
actually I got that I really worked for the Highway Patrol
starting '59 as a dispatcher, became a Trooper in..in
RP: (UNK) I think kind of- the way the Turnpike has done it
throughout the years, paying the Troopers, they've been a
separate budget. They..they weren't included on the
State's..the FHP's budget.
GFP: Let's, Yeah yours go the..ah..when the Turnpike Authority
existed, or when it came into existence, and probably Bill
Hoffman can..can best fill everybody in on..on the history
RP: I think he has.
GFP: ..But..ah..the..ah..the Turnpike Authority, in essence,
rented a Troop, or financed a Troop of Highway Patrol..ah..
for the State so the..the entire Troop cost the general
budget of..of the Department nothing and yet it gave us
another entire troop of Troopers and when they were needed
elsewhere under, you know, any types of condition whether
it was special assignments or what not, they were
available. But the funding was..was..ah..handled by
RP: And then you retired, approximately..
GFP: Yes, I retired in March of 1980.
RP: What rank were you when..
GFP: I was Corporal.
RP: You were stationed where?
GFP: I was stationed in Lantana, here in Palm Beach County.
RP: OK. How old are you?
GFP: I'm fifty-two.
RP: OK (HA! HA! HA!) Where were..where were you born?
GFP: I was born in Rushville, Indiana.
GFP: A small town about forty miles out of Indianapolis.
RP: You have brothers and sisters?
GFP: I have three sisters, older sisters, a number -of them.
RP: You're the only boy?
GFP: I'm the only boy.
RP: Your parents alive?
GFP: Ah..My mother is still alive. My father passed away
several years ago.
RP: She lives in Rushville?
GFP: No, she lives in Columbia, South Carolina.
RP: Were you raised in Rushville?
GFP: I was raised in Rushville. My family moved to Florida when
I was about nineteen years old and I came down with my
RP: Well where'd you go to school...like elementary school..up
GFP: I went to school, yes, in Rushville and..ah..graduated from
public schools there. I attended, what was, at that time
(UNK) State Teacher's College one year, and then when the
family moved down here, I transferred to the- University of
RP: So you went to..you..you went to college?
GFP: Yes, I went to the University of Florida..ah..for a year,
and then..then left school and went to work. I worked for
a food chain in Ocala, which is where my family was living
and..ah..became friends with..with a guy by the name of
Gilbert Hudlow. Gilbert was a Radio Operator at the Ocala
Station, and had previously been..been assigned down in
Miami. And I met him through a mutual friend, we got to be
pretty good friends. And I got interested in..in the line
of work that he was in. Working with the Patrol as a
Dispatcher. Ah..It was through him, that I decided to put
in an application..ah...to be a radio operator with the
Department. And..ah..the contact through the Ocala
Station, course the radio operators were, offhand, were all
hired at the Trooper level, even though you..you put in a
GFP: Ah..And the Sergeant in Ocala was Tom Aaron.
RP: Oh yeah...I..I knew Tom.
GFP: And..ahh..Tom..ah...had my application, knew I was
interested in becoming employed. And..ah..I was actually
working at the time with the..the food company out of
Ocala, but I was over at the store in Deland working at the
time this..this dismount occurred and..ah..Red Taylor, who
was a Troop Commander on the Turnpike, stopped by the Ocala
Station one day, and in the passing conversation,
asked..ah..the Sergeant if he knew of anybody looking for a
job for Radio Operator, he needed one in Fort Lauderdale.
And that's how I came to..to get the job down there so it
was on..on Tom's recommendation that..uh..the..
RP: You already had your application in though?
GFP: Yes, that's correct..at the Ocala Station.
And..ah..ah..Tom recommended to Red Taylor to hire me, and
Red Taylor hired me on a telephone conversation and I went
to Fort Lauderdale..and..ah.. started off as a Radio
Operator in '59. I was drafted in 1960, and..ah..I was on
military leave of absence then from the State.
RP: Were you married when you came home to (UKN)?
RP: So you could still be drafted out?
GFP: Oh yes! (ha! ha! ha!) And..ah..ah..so I was drafted one in
the Army. Because of the fact that I was working with a
police related agency, (I believe) was the primary reason
that I was assigned to the military policy and went to Fort
(UKN), Georgia and went through their training program. I
was assigned to the 5-0-8 Military Police Battalion in Unit
Germany, and was sent to the U. S. Army's Traffic School
(UKN) Oberamergau, Germany, which is near Gormich.
RP: How do you say that?
GFP: Oberamergau that's O-b-e-r-a-m-e-r-g-a-u. (I believe)..it's
a small city in southern (UKN) where it's quite well known
for the passion plan (UKN..). Well anyway, we went
to..ah..the school down there which was the Northwestern
School, that was taught by..ah..ah..army officers that had
been trained by Northwestern Teaching Program. So we went
through that and then I spent the rest of my assignment
over there as a Traffic Accident Investigation Specialist
for the Army. Came back in '62 and went back to work with
the Radio Operator on the Turnpike. And put in my
application to become a Trooper, and..ah..at the time, we
were getting fifteen additional troopers that were being
hired to go to the North extension on the Turnpike and I
thought, Gee this will be a great chance to go back up near
Ocala. Ah..and I was invited to Tallahassee, took my
exams, they hired seventeen of us. There was a retread
that was sent to Key West, fifteen went to the Turnpike,
and I went to Miami.
GFP: And..ah..so I started my career out with..ah..ah..in
Miami. Russ Garris was my Sergeant, Gilbert Tran was my
Corporal. No, I take it back Jo was not my Corporal at
first, it was..ah..Ray.....
GFP: ...Grime, he was my Corporal. And Russ Garris was my
Sergeant. John Hicks was the Lieutenant, and Bill Stephens
was Troop Commander. So I was stationed down there in
'63. I went through the Recruit Class the following
January, which was the twenty-first, twenty-second (unk), I
don't remember now which class it was, or twenty-fourth,
one of those..back in the early twenties, you
know,..further back than we care to admit.
RP: Yeah..What year was that '63?
GFP: Recruit Class of..of January '64. Ah..and of course after
completion of that school we went back to..to Miami and I
was stationed there until..ah.. the first of January '65.
I had, course, always been interested in going back to the
Turnpike because I..I'd developed an awful lot of friends
and good relationships with people on the Turnpike, which
interested me in working there again, and Captain Coffman
was aware of that at the time. He had become the Troop
Commander when I was in service when Red Taylor retired.
And..ah..so they had some openings, he..he let me know that
they were gonna have some openings. They had
some..ah..positions becoming available. He was actually
interested in having troopers who were interested in
working the Turnpike. And so I put in my Request for
Transfer and was transferred effective the first of January
of '65. I had.. I'd been married in '64 and my wife was
teaching school in Miami, so they left me assigned in Miami
until July and then I was transferred to Palm Beach
County. So I actually..I was the only trooper at that
time..ah..assigned to live in Dade County..ah..but worked
Turnpike. Course, as you're aware of it, you know that
everybody had county assignments that you..you absolutely
did get. But I was the only trooper assigned working out
of..out of Dade County on the Pike and it worked out as a
convenience and then we moved up in..ah..ah..in July, they
had..ah..a couple people resign. I think they had one
transfer so they were really short in Palm Beach County at
the time, so they move me up and..ah..we actually moved to
Palm Beach County the next September.
RP: Was that '65?
GFP: That was '65. And then I stayed on the Pike until '78
when I was promoted and transferred to Lantana, so I
had..ah..I had about a thirteen year span there, on the
RP: You were promoted to Corporal?
GFP: Yes. I went to..course during those times, you aware we
had a lot of..lot of program changes. I was in the..ah..in
the first Traffic Homicide Investigator's School.
RP: ..Yeah, you were..ah..I know went to Miami..late '67 I
think that was where I first met you at a restaurant along
7th Avenue and about 81st Street.
GFP: Yeah, probably down at Latterson's or some..no it
was..um..Harlem on 79th Street.
RP: It seems like you were Homicide Investigator then.
GFP: That's true.
RP: And you were working the Turnpike and you were down there
for Court or something and then I met you.
GFP: I had..ah..I worked..ah... When we first started the
program, as you're aware, the first class, there were
fifty, fifty-one or -two homicide investigators in the
State..and there were three of us for the Turnpike..ahh..a
trooper by the name of Lamar McGlendon,..ah..John King, and
myself. Lamar was stationed in the Orlando area, John was
in Fort Pierce, and I was in Palm Beach and so we had the
Pike split into three pieces and if somebody had the day
off, then it was split into two pieces...
RP: (Jokingly) And if two had the day off then it was split
into one piece.
GFP: We didn't have..ah..and you can appreciate it, we didn't
have many fatalities on the Turnpike at that time, or even
so I think probably comparatively today, they don't have
as many. Ah..so it wasn't the madhouse that. some homicide
investigators around the State had, but you covered a lot
of territory. I covered everything from..ah..generally
speaking, from the Miami toll gate North to the Martin-Palm
Beach line about seventy-four miles and if..John King had a
day off or something, you know,I'd work from up there. I
worked them as far North as the 115 mile post, which is
well into St. Lucie County. North of the Ft. Pierce toll
bridge. So it just depended, you know, but you...you
covered the area, you know, up and down. Ah..I went to
the..later went to the..ah..First Colonel Investigation
School in (UKN) which they took primarily, I think, members
from the first two homicide schools, and they took some of
them and we went through that program. That was in, as I
recall, that was in '68. Ah..concepts, maybe they were
going to do something with that and it never materialized
for..ah..organizational reasons at a later point and time,
and they came in with new agencies with (UKN). We went
through that and, of course, had the opportunity to
participate in alot of schools and enjoyed that.
RP: And you taught alot too.
GFP: Yes, I started teaching in '70. Ah..I was invited up to
the Academy. Walker Oliver was stationed at the Academy
at..at..ah.. that time. He was over (UKN) up there, and
Tom Betts was the Sergeants of course. Tom had been the
Corporal when we went through and had been our
house-mother. Ah..there was a trooper by the name of Bob
Prince that was on the staff at the Academy, full-time at
that time, and they had just decided that they were going
to start a program in which they were going to start
bringing up troopers to assist and (for the lack of a
better word) what we call the 'House-Mother Program',
having someone on the Academy campus all the time. Without
him it could be somebody from full-time to staff, which was
very demanding on the headmen for years. Ah..I was
the..first one that came up in that program. But
Lieutenant Oliver, at that time, had gotten me to take over
teaching a course that he taught for a number of years
called "Patrolling Turnpike and Specialized Techniques of
the Turnpike". From there I worked on in the training
program. I was very interested in it. Ah..at the same
time I was going to college. I was at Palm Beach Jr.
College, and I completed my Associates Degree there in Law
Enforcement and then went on down to Florida Atlantic
University in Boca Raton and..and graduated there in 1973
with a B.A. in Social Science.
RP: I thought you a degree.
GFP: Yeah..and..ah..all this time I continued to teach at the
Academy, course at the time I..I left I was a Criminal Law
instructor for the Department. I was teaching in the..in
the..ah..in the (UKN) Basic Academy and..ah..refresher
schools, intermediate, advanced and in Superv-isor School on
Criminal Law. Oh, I enjoyed that part very much, it was a
good time. And..ah..I think the school program came a long
way during the years that we were..were acting in the
Patrol, from a basic academy, that I always felt was an
excellent academy. But the basic academy is a very low
training beyond that. and it moved into a program where we
certainly have a good.. or had a very good (UKN) had a very
good ongoing training program, we helped everybody. So I
stayed there and, of course, in '78 went to..to Troop L as
a Corporal and my Troop Commander then was Walker Oliver,
who'd come back. He and I caught the train. He had been a
Corporal. No I take it back. He was a Trooper when I
first went to the Turnpike as a radio operator. He was a
Trooper stationed in Hollywood and about a month after I
got there or so, maybe two months after I got there, he was
promoted to Corporal and transferred to Stuart. So I had
known him throughout the years and had contact with him.
Ah.. but he was my Troop Commander. Billy O'Brian was the
District Lieutenant and Bill Stringfield was the Sergeant.
RP: Billy O'Brian was the District Lieutenant back then?
GFP: Yeah, Billy O'Brian was the District Lieutenant in Troop
RP: Oh.. that's right!
GFP: When I was promoted he was the District Lieutenant. I'd
worked on the Pike..I'd work for..ah, of course, like I
said, Bill Coffman. Les Sutton was..ah..was my Lieutenant
when I first went to the Turnpike. I worked for Dave
Carton down at..when I was on the South end and Dave was
the Supervisor of that South post and was home based down
in Pompano he..he was Corporal then. Ah..then I
transferred to West Palm where Ralph Coleman was my..he was
my Sergeant up there. So..ah..he had sort of structure,
course, (UKN) Bill Coffman was promoted and transferred to
Tallahassee, and Ralph Hayes become Troop..was Troop
Commander on the Turnpike when I left there and went on to
RP: When you came up from Miami as a Corporal..
GFP: No, I came up from Miami as a Trooper.
RP: As a Trooper? And then you were promoted to Corporal.
GFP: Yeah, see I left Miami in '65 and promoted in '78.
RP: Yeah..Okay. But now when you retired were you not a
GFP: No, I was a Corporal, but the..what happened is..shortly
after I retired, the Department decided that they
would..would..ah..give everyone an honorary promotion upon
retirement. And..ah..I got a letter from the Colonel and
they were issuing new I.D. cards. And, in fact, I had go
by the station at Lantana and get a new picture taken. And
they re-issued my retirement card as a Sergeant. My
original said Corporal. And they re-issued it.
RP: Well now I think you should have a retirement card that
says Lieutenant, they've upgraded the ranks so.
GFP: (laughter) I keep..I keep promoted after I got out. I'm
doing much better here after I retired.
RP: Yeah, I could be a retired Sergeant myself, you know (ha!
ha! ha!). Yeah..I was thinking you were Sergeant when you
GFP: No I was a Corporal, but later became the Sergeant (UKN).
RP: You spent alot of time teaching. Seems like every contact
I had with you from their initial meeting after that, it
was like you were always in Tallahassee every time I was
GFP: I spent alot of time in Tallahassee. The more schools we
ran, the more often I was up there.
RP: And doing a great job of teaching Criminal Law. You were
GFP: Well, I enjoyed it.
RP: You did an excellent job. Well, you know, it's..ah..I
guess it's if you enjoy doing something you will be good at
GFP: I think the thing that may have helped, and we...and we
certainly had some..some pretty good instructors in the
past, but they were all..most of them had been lawyers.
And, unfortunately,..ah..I think that, the problem they had
was getting away from the courtroom approach and dealing
with explaining to a street cop, what he's looking at and
what it means. And I think that was problem that..that
many of them had. They had maybe too much of a (UKN) and
not enough of a practical application.
GFP: Ah..I always explained to all my classroom help, if any
questions, you contact your state attorney in your
jurisdiction cause he's the guy who's gonna make the
decisions when the cops get you up for prosecution. But I
think the..the approach that I was able to use with them
was..was to give them the street knowledge on what they
needed to try and determine if they had a problem (UKN).
RP: I think that's probably the..the technique that the F.B.I.
needs to..ah..or the F.B.I. Academy needs. Agents office
to (UKN) to use street knowledge, but can apply that street
knowledge to protect (UKN) and gave it practical
application to..to the students.
GFP: I think..I think that's why that course became successful
with me is..is because I can do that..
RP: ..on the road and..
GFP: ..I'm a great believer in the fact of the fact
that..ah..that probably a supervisor should have a great
deal of road experience when it comes to crime.
RP: So, you were doing real well here as a Corporal, teaching
school and everything was going well and then you decided
GFP: That's correct.
RP: Must have been something good,huh?
GFP: Well I was..I was offered a position with a law firm in
West Palm Beach it was a personal (UKN). Ah..and it was
just..ah..it was to good of an opportunity for me to pass
up. And so I accepted the position with them.
RP: What year was this?
GFP: That was in 1980.
RP: 1980. So you officially retired?
GFP: I officially retired in..in March of 1980.
RP: How many years of service?
GFP: Ah..I think the..the records indicate sixteen and a half
and I ranked..ah..and of course..I had (UKN) the extra
credit per additional State time, because I worked for the
Turnpike Authority for the years previous.
RP: Did you get your military time?
GFP: Ah..no. My military time was not under the guidelines at
the time I retired. It was in that gap between the Korean
War and the Vietnam War. So that time was
RP: But that was good experience in the military.
GFP: Oh, absolutely!
RP: Did you teach in the military?
GFP: No, I didn't teach..I..ah..I was assigned in (UKN) Station
in Eunich. And Eunich is a big metropolitan area to begin
with. It was prior to what's known as Status of four
sixty-three. At the time I was there, the..ah..ah..the
German and civilian police had no authority over American
military personnel, so we really functioned as a major
metropolitan policy department. And..ah, like I said, I
was assigned (UKN) section the entire time I was over
there. I worked alot of wrecks while I was there.
RP: So you came on the Patrol with quite a bit of experience.
GFP: Yes, I've had..having worked the Eunich metropolitan area,
I have a great deal of actual investigation experience.
RP: Who was your training officer when you came on the Patrol?
Who broke you in?
GFP: It was..ah..I'm trying to think of his name, I can see his
face. Charlie..ah..it's terrible. He went to work
for..ah..the Sea Board Airlines Railroad.
GFP: Charlie Merritt! That's exactly right. I just couldn't
pull it up.
RP: Great guy.
GFP: AH..Yeah..He went to work for them several years later, but
he was my training officer when I first went to Miami.
Ah.. some of the guys who ran around with them they're Ron
Hisler, ah..Clint Rhodes..ah..that group. In fact, Clint
had a house up in the North end and as I recall, it was a
four bedroom house. Not many of them around back at that
time. But he had a four bedroom, and consequently, had
troopers living there with him. Clint Hisler did quite
well with that house. I'm sure his mortgage didn't cost
him alot because we all helped sharing. But it worked out
for all of us, because it provided (UKN). At one time Ron
was there, I was there, Clint was there and Dave Copeland
(one of the guys I went through Patrol School with) was
there. And..ah..I'm sure he sort of rotated through us as
people came into the unit.
RP: So what year did you get married?
GFP: We were married..Jackie and I in 1964.
RP: And you got children?
GFP: Yes, uh huh, I got four children.
RP: Four? What's the oldest?
GFP: My oldest boy is twenty.
RP: And the youngest?
GFP: My youngest boy is eleven.
RP: Still busy.
GFP: Oh yeah.
RP: Ah..Does anything stand out in your mind as far as screwy
things that happened? Funny things that happened? Serious
things..anything that you know.
GFP: I've..I've tried to think of some of those things because I
knew you'd asked.. and you just..I really can't recall any
particular ..obviously things have probably happened but
just..just trying to pull them back out it's..it's hard.
I..I know that..ah..ah..we had an unusual Troop situation
when I was on the Turnpike, there were..there were probably
alot of feelings around the State, at least back at that
time. Troop K was really not part of the Highway Patrol.
There was alot of animosity back in those early days.
RP: I remember that.
GFP: And, of course, we use to joke and say that's true, we're
not really part of the Highway Patrol we're the State
Police. But on the Turnpike, we were the police
department. So we had..we did have the opportunity to
become involved in alot of things. Other Troopers back at
that time didn't to become involved, if criminal activity
occurred on the Turnpike. And..ah..you know, and then we
were involved in it very deeply and the Sheriff's Office
really went out to call. If something happened on the
Turnpike, we handled, and we'd get technical assistance
from some of them if we need it. But..but we handled
whatever occurred out there. Ah..there were murders out
there. I know one occurred back when I was a radio
operator and somebody threw him out in the road trying to
communicate with these men..ah..run over by traffic. And a
guy by the name of Frank Waldron, whose deceased, Frank was
a trooper at the time, came upon..on the scene of the
situation and really very quickly got back on the radio and
let us know what he felt was a murder. He and ~pffman,
in fact, worked at that case and cracked all sorts of information
down in the Miami. And..ah..they never found the killer but..but
they had all the..had all the motive and everything else on the
victim. But if those- things happen, you just carry on through
and work it through to conclusion.
RP: Then you were many times a criminal investigator?
GFP: Sure. And of course, then you also handled the Civil
investigations that took place because the Turnpike
Authority was concerned about any legal exposure they would
have. Ah..the..ah.. anytime someone was hurt, somebody
would slip, fall..anything of that nature..ah..the Highway
Patrol conducted the investigation. (UKN).
RP: Y'all were like the precursors of the investigations
section..because I don't know what these investigation
sections started, but it couldn't..couldn't have been too
much before the early sixties.
GFP: Well that's..of course the investigating section, as I've
first remember was known as 'Reddick Raiders'. And they
were the DL guys. Now we..we got involved in the some of
that when I was stationed in Miami. I remember
we..we..ah..Bob Boyer and four or five others, went down
the South end and held a massive DL check. Ah..one..it was
a Friday. There must have been..ah..I don't recall cars
now, but there must have been ten or twelve cars. Ah.. and
we went down there and had auxiliary men helping us and
were snagging driver's licenses..the old-style driver's
licenses that had been purchased by migrant workers up in
New Jersey. And that was back about the time the inception
of 'Reddick Raiders' I guess, which would have been back in
'64 or so, when they first started, you know,
creating..ah..just one of the temporary one. I think Bob
Blair was very closely involved in that at the time.
RP: I think Bob was an investigator in Miami. He was the
first..I believe he was the first investigator in Miami.
GFP: He probably was and he was..he was a uniformed trooper, of
course, at the time this all occurred. But I think Bob was
the key trooper involved.
TAPE 1/SIDE 2
GFP: I was around when the first air-conditioned patrol cars
RP: Yeah, that was what..'65?
GFP: '65. yeah, in fact, I was stationed in Miami and I'd had a
series of several patrol cars. Ray Grimes wanted to..they
gave him a new car in '64..but he really wanted to buy that
'63 Chevrolet that he had. As you know, alot of time, you
know, back in those days, troopers would, you know, have a
car they like and they'd try and buy it from the dealer
when the trade came..time came if it was good, and he liked
it..so I got that car. During '65..and I had a series of
cars..when '65 the cars came out, instead of Ray getting,
it (because he'd taken the other car when the replacement
car came in for his car), I got one of the first
air-conditioned Fords. And then, I'd had it about a
month..and my..not quite a month..and my Letter of Transfer
came in. The Sergeant called me and told me he needed me
to come to the Station, that he'd trade cars with me
because they were going to need to use the air-conditioned
cars in details over at the Orange Bowl beings I wasn't
going to be around much longer. So my..my air-conditioned
car lasted for maybe two weeks..ah..and I..I got another
old Ford and..ah..when I went to the Turnpike I got even an
older Ford..when I first went up there, but..ah..then after
I'd been up there three month our new cars came in and, of
course, these were (UKN) original air-conditioned cars we
ordered they were Fords. The Turnpike cars came in, and
they were the new class. And the factory had..had made an
error and had installed radios..(music) radios in the
RP: Yeah, cause after then it was taboo, right?
GFP: And of course, as you're probably aware, you didn't even
carry a portable radio and listen to music and some guys
did and some had antennas mounted under the frames of their
cars. I'm sure there'll be people who'll be able to tell
that story, I never had one. But I use to carry my
portable radio along every now and then so if you wanted to
listen to something, you could do that, but, of course it
was strictly forbidden. The Sergeant saw, and you know,
you were in deep trouble. Ah..so I had a small portable I
use to carry along that would slide under the front seat
and be out of sight, and hopefully, out of mine if the
Sergeant came by to do an inspection. At any rate, the
cars were delivered. And there were twenty-three of 'em
delivered in the Turnpike and they all had commercial-band
radios in them. Ah..the dealer told ..ah..Captain Koffman
that they would just pull the radios out and put blank
plates in on the dashboard and leave 'em. Coffman was
insisting ,however, that they also remove the antennas,
fill the holes, and paint the cars. Ah..the manufacturer
decided it would be cheaper to donate the radios to the
Highway Patrol and kffman got permission from Colonel
Kirkman, for us to keep the radios in the cars and each one
of us received a rather extensive lecture that said we'll
be watching your activity, and if your activity drops,
because you're listening to the radio, we're going to take
the radios out. So this was sort of a first, you know.
Obviously, the radio had no effect, whatsoever, on
the..ah..on the work that was done. And I..I think
probably, as we all learned later, most of the time the
radio was in car, it made..made it worth a little bit trade
time, when you ..when you trading, but most people really
didn't listen to 'em that much anyway because they always
had..had police radios going and things going on. At least
that was always my experience. I was in that group that
received the first radios.
RP: Did they have C.B.'s? Were they popular on the Turnpike
GFP: C.B's yes. When the C.B. radio first came into
existence..ah..several of the Turnpike troopers started
putting them in the cars, and I was one of them that did.
And..ah..we found it to be an extremely useful tool back at
that time. However, Department policy was such
that..ah..that they were not supposed to be in the cars and
the..the Director ordered them removed. There was quite a
letter-writing campaign and petitions and what-nots that
went to Tallahassee, and though the Department's official
position was going to be that, no there are not going to
be, you know there are not going to be C.B. radios, in
fact, the Director decided that the Turnpike would be
permitted to install (UKN) C.B. radios and it would be for
the Turnpike crew only. And they were going to, at that
point try and evaluate the usefulness of it. Those of us
who worked on the Turnpike really did...I know it was alot
of idle chatter that went on in those times. Ah..but we
found by..by using those radios, that we got an extension
of our abilities to pick out problems or to identify
problems by the use of that C.B. radio, and..and
communication, as we all know is very important to anything
you do. And we found that..that communication really
extended our abilities. There were a number of DWI's that
I couldn't jail. They came directly from that C.B. radio.
There were times when..when, course it had short range, so
you really didn't get long range notice and things. But
there were times when we had accident situations that we
were able to, by using the C.B radios and just..just
getting on there, caution traffic as they approached a
certain location that they were coming upon a bad accident
scene and the circumstance existed such and so. And it
really did help reduce hazard because drivers now were able
to get information on something that was happening before
it got into their sight. So we felt that it was a useful
tool for those purposes. Like I said, there was a lot of
idle chatter that went on and everybody was spending all
day long trying to locate where you were and, of course, if
you were listening to it, you kept hearing you location all
day long. But it still, unbalanced, it was..it was
something that I felt was useful. Ah..it certainly opened
up some communication where people were willing to call and
report to you. What's happening?
RP: Yeah, I think they proved themselves, I really do.
GFP: I don't even know whether they still use them today or not
RP: I see alot of troopers out there, on the Turnpike
especially, with their antennas up.
GFP: I..I don't think as much as the public use them today as
they use to.
RP: No, I don't think so. I don't think generally they do.
GFP: But I think at the time, course that was back at the time
of the great gas shortage, fifty-five mile an hour speed
limits, and..ah, at the time I think it served somewhat of
a tool--maybe a bridge to the public.
RP: You mentioned that they took your car for special detail.
Did you ever..were you ever assigned any of these special
details? With the President or anything of that nature?
GFP: Well, I..I worked a few times, course when Governor Kirk
was living here in Palm Beach, I worked the community
details over at his residence.
RP: What'd you do over there?
GFP: Usually we sat..uh..we had an office that we'd monitored
his telephone calls coming in and screen what's coming in.
RP: -Don't they call that the Duck-sm->r's?
GFP: They call it the Ducksmaster's. Ah..and occasionally he
and his wife would like to go down..ah..to dinner some
place in town cause usually it'd be the weekend when they
were in. And you would take 'em down there. But one night
I..I..ah..took them down to dinner and it was, again, at
that point in time it was not where security was as
monitored as it is today..(UNK). We took 'em..I took 'em
down to dinner and the Governor called me later and said we
want to walk home. And so I told him to give me five
minutes and then he could start, and I went ahead and took
the car and went down. And..ah..parked a short distance
from the restaurant and watched them leave the restaurant.
And then..ah..staying a fair distance away from them,
slowly drove without my lights, you know, just along the
street on a Sunday evening in Palm Beach. Ah..just to be
there in case they needed anything, but..you thought
nothing of taking 'em down, dropping 'em off for dinner at
the restaurant and leaving them there. I'm sure today's
philosophy would be somewhat different. But..ah..I..I
pulled a few of those. I went to Daytona on the 'College
Weekends'. Ah..I didn't go the 'Speed Week', but I went to
the 'College Weekends' in Daytona Beach. And, of course we
had the 'Spring Volkswagen (UKN)' here and..and..ah..
RP: Pardon? The what?
GFP: Spring Volkswagen' was a place being built non-union labor.
And a group came in and vandalized and destroyed alot of
the buildings (UKN). I was involved in that back before we
had..ah..extensively trained riot team.
RP: Were you a member of the Riot Team?
GFP: No, I was not a member of the Riot Team. But, you know,
this was when, I could tell you, it was..ah..when we had
GFP: Florida Power and Light-type helmets, and..and just our
regular (UKN) carbines or shotguns, or whatever it was we
RP: That was our St. Augustine stuff.
GFP: That's correct. Yeah, yeah.
RP: It's..the same types of things we had in the time of St.
Augustine. I was in..(UKN)...Hurricane..ah..Cleo in Miami
in '64, and that was an interesting event. Ah..obviously,
we had..there were top persons, and..and I was assigned
at..at three or four o'clock in the morning, to Interstate
95. I had the Chevrolet that I told you about and Bob had
one of the '63 Dodges and of course they set very high and
he was afraid the wind was going to pick him up and blow
him off the road. Ah..but..ah, you know, we were virtually
the only two cars on the Interstate at that time, and we
did spend quite a bit of time trying to keep the signs
picked up and cleared away from the roads because when they
get ripped off those poles, they'd be just like a
guillotine. And I remember Bob and I had a particularly
difficult time getting (UKN) speed signs up off the
pavement and into the back seat of my car, because
everytime you start to pick it up the winds would run back
up to 120 miles an hour and almost tore it out of your
hands. You had to drop it on the pavement and stand on it
until the winds would ease up a little bit.
RP: You were right out in the middle of the hurricane?
GFP: Yes, we were out in the middle of the Hurricane...Ah..
RP: How'd they work as far as like..ah..the Safe House. Did
y'all go back to the station? Or did you have a place...
GFP: No. No, we were out on the...if things really got bad,
what we would have actually done on that Interstate in
Miami. What we would have done would have been pulled up
underneath the bridges, high up under the bridges as far as
you could get your car and (UKN). But it really didn't
pose that much of a problem to us. Cleo was fairly small,
though powerful winds, fairly small storm and passed within
a few hours. We went up near the Turnpike..ah..after, you
know, after the wind started subsiding, and we went up
there with Joe Betrand, and we had axes and saws and helped
D.O.T. clear out a bunch of Australian pines and that had
fallen South of the toll gate so you could move traffic.
But, generally with exception..and we also..we blockaded
the (UKN) Causeway, allowing only residents or employees of
businesses to go over to Miami Beach because it was
extensive glass damage over there in that storm...Ah..alot
of broken glass, cause they really weren't prepared for
it. But a fairly calm storm in all.
RP: How 'bout chases. Any good chases?
GFP: Ohhh...Course! Yeah, I've been in some wild chases, like I
think all of us have at some point in time. Ah..I..I was
involved in..in..ah..I remember one time, we had a guy come
out on the Turnpike, and he started running from a young
trooper from down in Broward County, and everytime the
trooper tried to pull up on him, the guy was driving a big
Lincoln, would swerve out and try and hit him. Ah..the
Corporal down there at that time was Tom Boatwright, and I
was working South Palm Beach and Tom was up around Pompano
when the chase started like down in Hollywood. And so time
was interested in getting a little bit older more seasoned
trooper involved with him in trying to..to stop this guy.
So we tried to use what..what we always referred to on the
Turnpike was a "running roadblock". We'd get two cars up
side by side, or one car up to the front and try and slow
the vehicle down from..from ahead. And I was the running
roadblock. Tom got in behind me and I when I was in block
coming from...from above him. And..ah my choices finally
came down to either going off the road at about 130 or
being hit in the rear. So I took it off the road and came
back up. Just after that the..the person we were chasing
slowed down tremendously and..and..ah..Boatwright tried to
come up on his left side. He swerved out in front (UKN)and
before the median barrier existed on the Turnpike, when we
still had the grass median, and Tom saw his chase and took
it, tagged him on (UKN) and spun him across the road, and
Tom's car came up on two wheels. And of course, I was back
into the chase at this time, so Tom broke to my left. I..I
merely continued to follow the Lincoln..ah..across the road
and he slid to a stop. Ah..fortunately, Tom's car did come
back down on its wheels, and the other trooper came to talk
with (UKN). Ah..we got there just about the same and we
jumped out ran over. He fell in the lake and
his..his..killed it and was trying to start it. So Tom and
I, each got a tire. I shot out the left front and Tom
shot out the left rear. We knew that if we got the tires
out and he was in the sugar sand he really wouldn't be
going anyplace. The hood on the Lincoln, it was one of
those reversal hoods, the hood on the Lincoln was up, and
the young trooper fired shots into the engine. And Tom and
I both had 357's, he had (because he was one of the young
guys) had one of the 38's. And..ah..(UKN) the guy had just
gotten the car started, and it died and he couldn't restart
it. So he locked all his doors and wouldn't open it. One
of the Turnpike wreckers came along (just happened to be in
the area), came along about that time. This young trooper
(whoever he was) had got one of the connector hooks, that
you hook onto the axle and he swung it back and started to
..to..you know, break the driver's window. And I told him,
I said you might, you know, break the back window and we'll
get into that one. It was obvious by that time that there
was something wrong with the driver in some manner of way.
And so we briefly started to swing back to break the glass
and..and the driver ran down his electric window and said,
"Wait a minute, don't break my window", when I grabbed him
and started dragging him out the window and we pulled him
out and got him on the ground. Ah..later told us that he
figured that if he came out he was (UKN), he didn't want to
live any longer. And he..he said that if he came out, and
if he aggravated a trooper out on the Turnpike he..he
figured one of them would kill him. We..we got him jailed
in Palm Beach County. As the old saying goes, we charged
him with everything, including driving an ugly truck, you
know, anything you could think of that we should add
charges to him to hold him. The courts held him for a
while and then had him committed for psychiatric
observation. And..ah..and..ah..he wanted his car back. He
and his attorney came to the office and they asked the
Lieutenant for his car back and the Lieutenant told him we
were having to hold it for evidence because it had bullet
holes in it and things like that and we need that for
evidence in our case, to prevent giving him the car because
we didn't really (UKN), and we figured well we'd try and
flimflam him. His attorney didn't make any
objections..and..ah..the man.. That was in September or
early October, and the man..ah..committed suicide. He got
on the Turnpike, took and OD of drugs and then ran into a
RP: He was really gonna get you guys, wasn't he?
GFP: It was like Thanksgiving weekend. But that was a wild
chase. And of course I got involved in a few of the other
wild chases. They started to stop one up near Jupiter one
night and he had a burned out headlight. All I was going
to stop him for was getting (UKN) (UKN). It turned out to
be a stole car from..ah..some other state. We got in a
wild chase and it was actually a pickup truck behind us.
And we didn't have alot of speed. It kept running down and
making U-turns, you know, and flipping around. I had a
brand new patrol car. The only thing I could think of at
that time it was in '72 I had a brand new Dodge.
And..ah..it was not way in world that guy could run away
from us. I just didn't want him to hit me. And so we did a
lot of chasing around out there and he finally ran the toll
gate at Jupiter and got the Sheriff's office and Troop L
involved in it. And..ah..he tried several more times to
hit me, and he never succeeded. Ah.. he finally got hung
up in a parking lot, a trooper from Troop L jumped out of
his car in such a hurry to run over and grab him, he forgot
to take it out of drive and put it in park and his car ran
into a pole into a parking lot. So here he is explaining
to his Sergeant why he's not..you know. But that was
another one of the chase type things that went on. I had
one one time. I think it was probably goes back to (UNK).
I ran one, one night that I started to stop for a minor
violation. Again, a stolen vehicle. It was on Friday
night before the guard rail went up. He was driving up to
like 120 miles an hour, passing on the grass median. And I
broke the chase way off, advised the station that we were
up around 120..125 miles an hour. I dropped my speed, left
the blue light on so he could see it, and drop my speed
back to about 80, and gave him about three-quarter of a
mile lead. He dropped his speed about (UKN) and later got
near a bridge, spun his car out and took off through the
woods. We never found him. My concern there was, now
there's no need for the purpose of a pursuit to..ah..to
really endanger somebody's life the way he was doing it.
He was caught several months later by the F.B.I. out
in..ah..Wyoming or someplace like that. And I got a call
from an F.B.I. agent that he'd called back down here and
found some information on the guy they'd chased on the
Turnpike (UKN). It was Poston, and I talked to him. He
was wondering, you know, if I could identify him. I said
no I really never got that good of a look at him that I
could identify him but..but he described the chase, and I
said "Yep, that's the guy". Down to the fact that he'd
left sixty dollars laying on the front seat of the car.
And..and the agent ask him why he did that and he said
"Well, I thought they'd take the money and forget chasing
me, but they kept coming through the woods looking for
me". We told, we told..ah..ah..we told the agent sixty
dollars was in the safe at the..ah..at the Turnpike and
Coffman told him that if all a guy had to do to get his
money back was to give him the serial numbers on the bills.
RP: Ha! Ha! Ha!
GFP: And to the best of my knowledge, that sixty dollars is
still in that safe. Ha! Ha! Ha!
RP: I was gonna say I bet it is still in that safe on the
GFP: But..ah..yeah, those types of chases those types existed.
We had, of course we had, like I'm sure everybody could
tell you about the..the ..ah..the horrible crashes, of
course with the seventy mile and hour speed limit out there
back in those days..the, the..no median barriers and what
not, we had some pretty horrendous wrecks.
RP: There was a trooper killed up there in a car wreck...
GFP: That's correct.
RP: ..several years ago. Were you involved in that?
GFP: No, I was..in fact, at the time, I was teaching a recruit
class in Tallahassee. Taylor Morris is who you're talking
about. Ah..Taylor was involved in a high sp....I think
Charles Robbins worked that wreck. But Taylor was involved
in a high speed one car type of wreck.
RP: Yeah, hit a bridge.
GFP: use..I tell you what. I used that..ah..ah..when I got
back..ah..I had some..I don't know whether you ever saw any
of my presentations on the Turnpike, course we used to have
a slide show on the night shift. And..ah..I had some
slides and I went and took some pictures of that car. And
I used that in the rap up of the last portion of..of that
Turnpike "Procedures and Interstate" course. I used to
teach on a Saturday morning when we had seven in the
morning classes. I would be the teacher on Saturday
morning. The rest of the staff didn't have to come in.
And..ah I had a slide presentation that lasted about
thirty-five or forty minutes. One of the things I'd done
was, I'd shot some pictures of a..of a football field which
was a game board, but I shot it with a camera from
overhead, and used some arrows and what not, and used as a
teaching technique with, with recruits explaining to them
that something that I was fond of teaching them back then,
said miles per hour was good for two things. That's the
front side of the speeding ticket, the back side of an
accident report and it really wasn't worth a damn for
anything else. Because accident don't happen in miles an
hour, they happen in people (UKN). And so I used this
football field to show them at various speeds, how far they
would travel in a second, or how long it would take them to
travel the length of the football field. (There was stop
watching and (UKN) had it all worked out). Ah..so I went
through all those things with them. The last part of that
course, I..I told them, I said I promised I'd show you some
picture of accidents cause rookies were always interested
in seeing all the gory monster wrecks. And so I had a
series of pictures and here's this horribly destroyed
automobile that..that beyond being crushed horribly was
also burned, and the last picture I show of them then is
the distance shot. And you pick up the yellow and black
(UKN) stripe of the back end of the car and that's the only
paint you saw. And that was their first hint that that was
a highway patrol car. And I used that as a teaching tool.
I..I've explained to 'em, you know, that just because of
the paint job and the big seals and the blue lights doesn't
mean that you can't be involved in one of these yourself.
I think it was a very effective tool. And it was a tragedy
that Taylor was killed. But I tried to use that to..to
prevent other guys from getting hurt. And I
had..ah..ah..over the years, you know, my Corporal, Joe
Bertrand was shot and killed just before Christmas. One of
my classmates was shot and killed one time when I was up to
the Academy teaching. Ah..several of the guys that I
taught were shot and killed. Ah..and I always tried to use
as much of that as possible to teach these young troopers
to use their heads to make sure they didn't make mistakes,
and pointed out to them..ah..the..ah..the last one of "my
guys"..ah that we lost, was here in Palm Beach County,
after I retired, it was Fred (UKN). And Fred had been on
the squad that I worked with in Troop L. And then he went
out to the Turnpike. And..ah I had been out of town on
vacation and drove back in on a Sunday morning, and the
newspaper was laying in the drive way, and I picked it up
and, of course, saw the headline, and..ah..realized that,
you know, the hazards always out there, but I..I tried to
use (anytime I could), I tried to use those events to
teach. As you well know, my focus is, every since I was on
the Patrol I guess, has been on education. I was one of
those that early on wanted to go to college and get a
degree, and..ah..thanks to Bill Coffman's philosophy about
it, I was able to do that. Ah..but I've always felt that
education is the real key to the department's growth and
progression. And the better trained, the better educated
we are, the better we'll be able to deal with the problem
he faces. And..ah..
RP: But when you..when you went through the FHP Academy, you
through the Tallahassee school in the old barricks?
GFP: Yeah, we were in the old barricks building.
RP: And that was for what twelve weeks, I think?
GFP: That was twelve weeks.
RP: Who were some of your instructors?
GFP: Okay. Tom Betts was there. Of course Bill Barnett, Jay
Hall was the Captain out there, Booty Jordan who was a
Lieutenant up in Marianna was an instructor. Booty Jordan
taught "Law of (UKN)" and ah..Carl Adams, the Dean of all
instructors of ah..of ah Traffic Law. The architecture of
the Statute was..was our teacher. And I can remember Carl
Adams..ah..standing in the front of that classroom, (as I'm
sure he did with every class), and saying "If you don't
know this book from cover to cover by the time it's time to
graduate, you won't walk out of here". And the great story
that we later found that he did with most
classes..the..giving us the first test. And, of course,
everybody (I think) always miserably failed the first test
that Carl Adams gave because it was tougher that what you
really thought it was. And Adams walks in the back of the
classroom (they came in from the back of the old barricks
building), through the gun and the gun belt all the way
across the room. But we later found out that that was not
really not the one that he wore all the time. It was a
special one that they kept over there for him for this very
purpose, you know. Throws it across the room, crashes into
the wall, walks up in front of the classroom and sits there
reading the scores off the paper and dropping it in the
RP: Ha! Ha!
GFP: And the break room was right just to the north of the
classroom and the darn breaks people were back there to
play table tennis, you know, ping-pong, you know. And
Adams successfully shut down the ping-pong game..ah..said,
you know, you better spend that ten minutes studying. And
I don't think that that class peeped from that time on. One
of my classmates and I were the third and fourth students
that..that ever got them. .We..we all later found out, as
I'm sure you..you later found out, the first test was
nothing but ruse that he'd give us anyway to scare you to
death and make you pay attention. Ah..but..Mike..ah Welch
and I were the third and fourth students that ever got
approving scores from Carl Adams on the..the ah..
definitions (UKN). And the (UKN) to do that, we'd write
'em verbatim. He gave you forty and then he tested you on
twenty. And Mike and I wrote them verbatim. And he told
us..we studied together, Mike and I.
RP: Mike Welch?
GFP: Mike Welch, yeah. And..ah..ah we studied that course very
very hard together. When Carl Adams told us if we didn't
know that book when we walked out.
(TAPE 2 side 10)
RP: Tape number 2, and this will be the third side.
RP: Go ahead Frank, you were going to tell
GFP: Yeah, in other words, when you asked were there any fights
that, you know, happened, I remember..ah..ah..bed check at
the Academy, which of course it was ten o'clock at night,
and midnight on weekends. Tom Betts was our..ah..ah..our
House Mother. Of course, Tom in fact, I think they had
just moved from Lake City he used to come over from Lake
City, they had just moved from Lake City to Tallahassee (he
and Patty and the children). Of course, his kids back at
that time were small. And..ah..but he was a House Mother.
He stayed at the Academy some nights, but some nights he'd
go home. Ah...but he always pulled bed check. And you
could hear him coming down the hall. And..ah, of course
Tom, as you remember, a pretty big man, he..he didn't make
any bummers about walking down the hall, open the door, and
he'd shine the light in and make sure you're there in your
bed. So one night, I..I had the room in the old barricks
building, and it was just at the top of the stairs..ah
directly above the furnace room, so I probably had one, in
the winter time, I had one of the only one-rooms in the
whole (UKN). In fact I think a bunch of us use to study in
my room because it was warm, you know. Some of the other
rooms were like ice. But..ah..at any rate, Herman Waley,
and Herman I think is..ah (unless he's retired) he's still
in Palatka, Lieutenant, First Lieutenant in Palatka
probably in Troop G.
GFP: I haven't seen Herman for several years but at any
rate..ah..he was down at the end of the hall. So one
night,..ah..I hear doors beginning to slam down at the end
of the hall, as Betts would do, open the door, throw the
light in, close the door. And seemed to be slamming a
little bit louder but I hadn't heard Betts come up the
steps and the steps were right next to my room, and
obviously would you hear that. So I hear these doors
closing and at the..at the end of each one I hear these
little giggle. Somebody's doing bed check and about that
time I hear very softly creaking up the stairs next to me
what sounds like Tom Betts. And the steps stopped just at
very..like the last step. I could tell he's right at the
last before coming around the corner. My door opens, very
huge bright flashlight shines in my eyes..Boom! The door
slams I hear this heel heel heel and two more heavy steps
met by dead silence. Herm Waley had been pulling bed check
pretending he was Tom Betts and the only thing I heard was
Tom saying Waley get your ass back in your room. And you
heard this scurry down the hall and one more door slam.
And Waley, I think, for two or three days worried about
what they were going to do to him over him being out of bed
and pulling bed check in lieu of the Corporal cause he was
out of bed and you know that was an absolute no no. Ah..I
think that was sweet. We had alot of fun with Herman about
that, calling him 'Bedcheck'.
RP: Bedcheck Herman.
GFP: But..ah..ah..that was a play thing. He was..he really was
concerned about what they were gonna do to him on that.
That was at..at that time, if..ah..if Jay Hall called you
to his office..ah..it'd scared you to death. He called me
in one day. I just, you know, my heart was in my throat I
couldn't imagine what it was I had done. It turned out my
bank in Miami, cause I lived in Tallahassee, my bank in
Miami was trying to get in touch with me merely to question
(I've forgotten what it was) something about my account.
They called the Patrol Station knowing that I worked
there. They'd contacted the Academy. And of course, the
Academy merely wanted to find out an answer to a question
but I mean, you know, if Jay Hall calls you to his office,
you know, it was time to be concerned. The reason he
called me in is because it was a personal matter and he
just wanted to, you know, didn't want to make (UKN), so he
called me into his office but..but I know that if Jay Hall
told you that you were no longer employed when you were in
that Academy if if somebody was dismissed they didn't need
to go by and ask the Colonel if it was true.
RP: Yeah. That's right.
GFP: Things were..were ah..you know.
RP: Just about like he said they were (laughter).
GFP: Yeah. Jay Hall ran the Academy. Ah..ah I had, course, I
had the opportunity to..ah..to work under him later. Not
as a recruit. To them he was a hard task master. But..but
later as a trooper, and of course, we had the opportunity
to go in that wonderful facility he designed. And I think
that's probably the best laid out facility I have ever seen
for..for a (UKN) on purpose. Because he designed it. You
know, it wasn't designed by somebody who really didn't what
we needed at the time. You know, it just absolutely fit
every need that we had for training for recruit..
RP: I just love he designed the Academy.
GFP: He ab..absolutely did it.
RP: Well I'll be darn.
GFP: In fact told me one time, he said you know Frank there one
thing wrong with this building. I put an electrical plug
in the wrong post. And that was his greatest concern. But
it was, you know, the facility was made and it was, it was
really laid out. You know, at least for it's time, you
know, times may have changed now and things have changed,
but it..it was fantastic. You know, ah..we were certainly
a great crew, you know the World War II barricks building.
RP: Wonder what year that Academy opened, you know, when..when
they kicked it off..the new building.
GFP: The new building probably (UKN), an I'm sure there are some
folks here who can tell you, but probably around
sixty-seven. When I went to the homicide school the new
building was open.
RP: Wonder what they did during the interim when they tore down
the old and moved into the new.
GFP: Well, you got to remember that we didn't run the classes
full-time. But there some old buildings. They had some
buildings there. They may have put 'em up in a motel.....
GFP: ..for awhile. We did not, we didn't eat over at the
Florida State campus like some of the older schools did.
We ate there in one of the..one of the buildings, you know,
they had..ah..we had a kitchen inside and..ah..had feeding
tables set up and served us there in one of
GFP: That they had used solely as a dining hall. I think that
stayed for a hundred years on the campus. I think they
used..they continued to use it for storage (UKN). Ah..but
that's where the dining hall was. They didn't have to
worry about that waiting every Monday morning. Made sure
you ate a hundred and six times. I guess that's another
funny story. Back..you know, back then you had to be..be
5'8 1/2" at least weigh 160 pounds. Ah..and I remember
going up to take the exam and going over to Howard
Johnson's with a guy named Dick Lopez who was a trooper at
the time. Dick and I went up and we ate banana splits and
drank milkshakes and did everything we could to weigh 160
pounds the day we weighed in. And then they were looking
us for a blood (UKN) and blood sugar because we'd been
eating all that junk the night before trying to make 160
pound, you know. Ah..we didn't have the..we really didn't
have a good physical training program that later came to
the (UKN). Ah..we had calisthenics not always and rarely
ran around the building. Of course that changed with the
years and I think, you know, the health department had alot
to do with that.
RP: You marched..ah..
GFP: Yeah, we did some of that. Of course, see most of our
people, you know, again, were..ah military veterans. Most
everybody had that type of experience anyway. But we just
didn't do the running that later, you know, became a daily
event. Like I said the Department became a lot more
sophisticated as time went on. And I think to the
RP: Who do you think, now kinda looking back, you..you got any
feelings about the Department not keeping things going in
the right direction or do you think it's..
GFP: Oh, I think we all..we sat back back in those days, and we
would say gee things have got to change, you know, and this
and that. And you'll hear some of the same things today.
The truth is I think the Department has grown tremendously.
It's..it's..ah..it's always going to be (l)short equipment,
(2)short money, (3)short manpower. But that's..ah..that's
the realism in most bureaucracies. You never have the
utopia that you want. Ah..I guess maybe I'm one of those
old-fashioned troopers, you know, I see that yellow and
black car (UKN) told me belongs to me. And..ah..I have
friendships I've made over the years that are certainly,
it's much closer meaning than alot of other acquaintances
that you have. You know, you're talking about people that
you work with and you were willing to put your life in
their hands and trust them with that and you don't do that
with alot of other people that you need in other things and
other endeavors. Ah..you know, that guy that works next to
you on the Highway Patrol really was your life line. He
might be twenty or thirty miles away, but he's your life
line and you develop that closeness, that dependability
that..ah..that you probably don't in most other endeavors.
You know, you and I work here today in other fields and,
you know, we have a we have a working bond with the people
that we work with, but it's nothing like the bond that you
have with the troopers that you work with on the Highway
RP: Very, very unique.
GFP: And I don't think that..ah..I don't think that'll ever
change. I always felt the Highway Patrol really was a
little different, and I still believe it's a little
different from most of the law enforcement agencies.
RP: Frank why do you think, you know, what do you think you
left, let me just say that when..I..I know that, I know how
professional you were because I knew you in the Patrol
(mumbling) both in the Patrol. And I know that you were
very progressive. You- were into criminal law and you
wanted to teach, and you wanted to see things change. You
were always wanting to make things better. And when we
were talking about the old AM radio thing and the CB's
and..and the..I guess maybe back then you more or less just
faced the wall. Tallahassee said "no!" and there was alot
of "no's" in the period that'd be coming down.
And..ah..there was a certain amount of frustration that I
don't think they experience in the Patrol now. It appears
to me that it's more open, and it's more adaptable to
change like the rest of society. In other words, it's kind
of involved with the society that we live in. The
society's become more open the Patrol's become more open
and it's more susceptible to the change in addition to the
growth. Whatever the..the basis. It's incorporating more
more (UKN) incorporating the newer ideas in police work and
community involvement in different areas that the Patrol is
constantly confronted with.
GFP: Yeah, I think that's happened to them because of
the..the..maybe the acceleration that has been generated
by..by a number of things, including "mandated changes".
Ah..the new philosophy...You got to remember the..the
Patrol today..ah..doesn't really hold the autonomy that it
held back in its early days. You know, you got State
personnel regulation that you deal with as far as an
overseeing type agency that, you know. As you and I both
know, you know, Colonel Kirkman said so that's it. Ah..the
rules are etched in stone, you know and..and so those
changes are there. Ah..the Organization, and of course,
I've been away for several years it's a little hard for me
to speak about it. The Organization is, I would say, not
as paramilitary as it used to be. I'm not sure whether
that's good or bad. I mean I can..I, again, you go back to
the concept of 'Old School' but maybe I am sort of 'Old
School' about that. The Organization is really still..the
concept, at least in law enforcement, still should be
somewhat paramilitary but, but you had the development of
professionalism which, which steps a step away from that.
And that may be why you see some of the change that you
see. Ah..you know, I appreciate your kind comments about,
you know, trying to work toward progression that (UKN)
true. My decision to leave, really had nothing to do with
what I saw the Department doing or where it was going.
Quite candidly, I think probably, if I had not retired, I
probably would have been in the very near future been
transferred to the Academy in Tallahassee (UKN). I had not
been assured of that, but there were certainly indications
that, that they were going to have some expansion, and I
probably would have been the first person named to come up
there. Ah..to be candid with you, my decision was
primarily for selfish motives. Ah..I knew..you got to
remember you go back to the economic situation of the late
seventies. Ah..if I were to transfer, you know, housing
costs had just gone through ah..at this time. We had a new
home at that time, it was..was..ah..financed at something
we could handle at a rate that we could handle and we
transferred to Tallahassee, you got to remember, I would
also lose the high-cost county adjustment. And even if I
got promoted as a corporal I was making more money than a
first sergeant was in Tallahassee. So economically it
would not have been a wise move for me. Ah..I realized my
children getting to get to the age that I'd like to provide
for them being in a stable throughout their school years.
And, like I said, this other opportunity presented itself.
I got a phone call it said that here's an opportunity.
And..ah..so my decision to leave was really based
on..on..ah..selfish motives for my family. And not
certainly before any philosophical difference with what the
Department wanted..because I saw the Department going
places then. I saw changes coming about. I would have
enjoyed being a part of those changes but from a reasonable
evaluation I realized that this other opportunity was a
(UKN) why I needed to have to help provide best for my
family. And it really would be the (UKN) (UKN) to my
RP: What about doing it again? Would you do it again?
GFP: Would I do what again? Getting on the Highway Patrol the
RP: Well that, and making the same decision to leave.
GFP: Well I think I.. I made the right decision to do what I
did. It..it certainly doesn't make it easier to be aware.
Like say, the old yellow and black still means something to
GFP: I saw my old car go down the road the other day on the
Turnpike, you know, a FHP 417, and I said wait a minute
that's my car, you know, cause I drove it three years.
That will never change. Now I still, you know, some people
say Frank quit the Patrol. As you know, I retired, but I
still consider myself a part of the Patrol. And, you know,
that will never leave me. That's something I'll have with
me all my life.
RP: Well, what do you think the Patrol could do to keep from
losing people who saw what you saw in the Patrol and had
the opportunity? Just more money?
GFP: Lee, I don't think that..no, that's not..that's not
RP: I don't think that's the answer..money doesn't seem to
GFP: You can always pay more money, but from a practical
standpoint you can't afford to pay the prices that it would
take to keep all good people. You have to remember that
people are going to grow and their interests are going to
change and you aren't going to be able to stop everybody
from going. You still got some great people that are moved
up through the ranks...
GFP: ..that have, have moved up, you know. We all sat back
through the years and said "Boy, wait till the old guys
retire and we move up". Well, like it or not Ray, we've
moved up, you know, and there's another group down there
today saying "Boy, wait till those old guys get out of the
way and we'll move up", you know. And that will occur.
But that type of change won't occur. Ah..I think there's
still that core of people that..ah..will..will..ah continue
to grow in the Department and come along to provide the
leadership and, and give the Department its direction and
try and do the job that's..that's..ah..set forth by the
Statute that says you're going to go by the Highway Patrol
and do the job and they're gonna do it. And (UKN) (UKN)
(UKN). They were there when you and I got there. We
didn't always make these young rookies appreciate it as
much as we would look back on them today twenty-five years
later, and say "boy ya know, you really was right". You
really do worry (UKN). And I think that won't happen, you
know as people continue to come out.
RP: It's like evolution. It's evolutionary, that's what it is.
GFP: You get..yeah, you get..ah..good folks that work along.
That doesn't mean that sometimes you don't have somebody
that don't work out as well as you wish they had, but
that's true wherever you go. I see the Department dealing
with alot of problems it didn't deal with back when you and
I were on.
RP: Oh yeah. Certainly.
GFP: But they appear to be juggling everything and holding on.
It's changing. It's a different department between when
you and I were there, but it'll be a different department
in another twenty years. But it will still be out there
accomplishing the same mission. And it comes right back
down to, you know, the people that are there..are they
willing to do the job that's required of 'em?
RP: That's the end of the interview. It's 9:40 AM.