DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interview with Sergeant Pembrook Burrows III
Interview by Trooper Benjamin F. Hollinger, Jr.
Date Interviewed March 28, 1989
L !1 .
BH: ...and the time is 12:40 p.m. I have present with me
Sergeant Pembrook Burrows of the Florida Highway Patrol. I
am Benjamin Franklin Hollinger, Jr. of the Florida Highway
Patrol. I am interviewing Sgt. Burrows for the Florida
Highway Patrol oral history project program. The interview
is taking place at 710 Executive Drive, Executive Center,
Apartment 4-34, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sgt. Burrows
as you know the Florida Highway Patrol will observe its 50th
anniversary in 1989. This interview will establish your
knowledge of and your input into the past history of the
Patrol. For the record I would like for you to give me your
full name and if you would spell each name.
PB: My name is Pembrook Burrows, III. First name is
BH: Okay Sgt Burrows what date did you start with the Florida
PB: May 15th, 1972.
BH: Where were you born?
PB: West Palm Beach, Florida.
BH: Can you give me the date you were born?
PB: September 17th, 1948.
BH: And prior to coming on ....becoming a trooper, can you tell
me where you were living prior to that time?
PB: I was attending Jacksonville University, Jacksonville,
BH: Let's go back to your earlier days, where.....you indicated
before you were born...did you attend elementary school
PB: Palmview Elementary School. It is also in West Palm Beach.
BH: Did you attend high school in West Palm Beach also?
PB: Yes, Roosevelt High School.
BH: Upon finishing high school, what did you do then?
PB: Upon finishing high school I worked one year as a car jockey
after my first year out I obtained a two year scholarship to
attend Brevard Junior College which is in Cocoa, Florida,
and from there to Jacksonville University on another two
BH: Where you involved in any sports activity while you were
attending high school?
PB: Yes, basketball.
BH: And after attending high school you then worked a year
before attending college?
PB: That's correct.
BH: Did you play any kind of basketball while you were at the
PB: Yes, I played all four years of college basketball.
BH: Did you get a scholarship to Cocoa? The junior college up
PB: Yes, both Cocoa Junior College, I'm sorry Brevard Junior
College and Jacksonville University.
BH: Did you receive a degree from college?
PB: Yes, I have an AA degree from Brevard Junior College.
BH: Let's go back a little bit, what about your parents? Your
mother and your father, are they still living?
PB: Both are still living and are here in West Palm Beach.
BH: What did you receive your degree in upon completion of
PB: Just general education.
BH: Did you ever serve in the military?
PB: No I did not.
BH: So the only civilian jobs you have had while you ... since
high school was just being a car jockey.
PB: I've had summer jobs working in junior college with (unk)
transfer which is a moving and storage company here in West
Palm. I also worked for Wagner Security Agency in Cocoa at
Cape Kennedy for a summer and once I left Cocoa and went to
Jacksonville I worked again in the summertime for the same
guard corporation for the summer.
BH: After completing college and receiving your degree did you
do any kind of teaching in the public school system?
PB: No more than as an intern and upon completing four years in
Jacksonville I then started to work for the Jacksonville
Sheriff's Office in a new program that was called "police
youth affairs" and that program was primarily dealing with
troubled youth as a part of the school system.
BH: What reason or two or three reasons why got you interested
in being a Highway Patrolman?
PB: Probably as a youth....... troopers were looked at that time
as being the best law enforcement agency they represented
the state it showed when they stopped you that they were
being courteous; however, they were still doing enforcement
duties and that impressed me.
BH: Okay, when you applied for the Highway Patrol were you still
working for the police department in Jacksonville?
PB: No I was not......well yes I was....it was in the summertime
and at that time I was being drafted by Seattle and NBA and
(unk) to play pro basketball.
BH: What happened to that draft in basketball?
PB: I went to Seattle for about three or four months at that
time I was 13th man on Seattle's roster and they carry 12.
Miami Floridians had an opening for me and I wanted to go to
Miami to play with Floridians because it would have put me
much closer to home as opposed to being out in Seattle;
however, Seattle still had contract rights to me and it
never did materialize.
BH: Where was the Floridian team located at?
PB: In Miami.
BH: And so you gave up the aspect of going to pro basketball at
PB: I did.
BH: Where did you first initially pick up your application for
the Florida Highway Patrol?
PB: In Jacksonville, Florida, at the Jacksonville Highway Patrol
BH: At that time were you recruited by a recruiter or did you
just go in on your own seeking information about the Highway
PB: I went on my own seeking information.
BH: How did the people that you contacted there receive you as
an applicant for the Florida Highway Patrol?
PB: I talked with Lt. Smallwood who was in charge of the
station. He was the one who gave me the application and
told me about the Patrol and what to expect if I was
accepted on the Patrol.
BH: Can you tell me what year was that when you first picked up
your first initial application for the Florida Highway
PB: Sometime early 1972.
BH: At that time were there many blacks or minorities on the
Florida Highway Patrol that you knew of?
PB: No there were not. They were two prior to me, in fact I
remember reading about Alphonzo Lofton being the first black
trooper while I was in college at Jacksonville.
BH: During the time that you applied for the Highway Patrol and
talked to Lt. Smallwood, did you contact Al Lofton to talk
about the Patrol to see what kind of benefits or...?
PB: No I didn't...I had only seen the write up in the paper that
he had been hired. I didn't know where he was stationed and
I had never met him at that time so all my basic information
was being obtained from Lt. Smallwood.
BH: After receiving the application from Lt. Smallwood and
filling it out, where did you send your application at that
PB: I returned it to Lt. Smallwood who in turn checked the
application and forwarded it on to Tallahassee.
BH: How long was it then before you heard from Tallahassee
concerning your application for employment?
PB: Approximately a month.
BH: During the.....did they conduct your background in
Jacksonville or was your background conducted in Palm Beach?
PB: Partially in Jacksonville for the two year period there and
I am sure it was forwarded through Brevard where I attended
junior college and then forwarded it back to West Palm, my
BH: Did you meet the investigator, the corporal I think at that
time was doing backgrounds, did you meet the corporal that
did the background check on you?
PB: No I didn't. Lt. Smallwood was my main contact and I dealt
basically with him.
BH: When you were dealing with Lt. Smallwood concerning the
Highway Patrol, did you think he gave you a total picture of
the Highway Patrol both positive and negative? Was he
encouraging? Or did you feel like he was maybe not giving
you the full information of....?
PB: I felt Lt. Smallwood was being open with me and giving me
all the insight he had. There was very little negative that
he told me about. Everything he gave me was positive and
encouraged me to follow it through.
BH: After having your application sent to Tallahassee, what was i
the first step you went through as far as the selection
process to get ready for the Florida Highway Patrol? Do you
PB: Yes I went...... I received notice in the mail to notify
Tallahassee if I could come to Tallahassee on a certain date
and time to be tested.
BH: Was the Highway Patrol giving entrance exams at that time?
PB: Yes they gave everything in two days in Tallahassee at the
Training Academy everything from the entrance exam, the eye
test, the physical, all of the test was done in two days
including the oral interview.
BH: How did you do through the testing in Tallahassee? Did you
receive favorable consideration from the staff there?
PB: I think I did and I think too they were basically pulling
for me to make it is the impression I got.
BH: After going through that part of selection process, what
happened after that?
PB: I returned back to Jacksonville and was turned down.
BH: What was the reason you were rejected for employment?
PB: One reason I was rejected was they said I had one bad tooth
and it was a medical problem that could be corrected and the
other one was because of my eyesight.
BH: How did you overcome to rejection that had noted to you?
PB: On the tooth being drawn it was just a matter of going to
the dentist and having two tooth drawn because they said the
teeth being bad would cause me to miss work; therefore, I
had the tooth extracted by a dentist. On the eye
examination the problem which was told to me by the
optometrist in Tallahassee at the time was we were in the
classroom for several hours taking the test with my name
starting, my last name starting with a "B" I was the first
one that went into the room to have my eyes tested. The
optometrist said you were going....because I went from
several hours of reading print into a dark room to be tested
he thought that may have had some type of bearing on my eye
test. It was his recommendation that once I got back to
Jacksonville to have my eyes rechecked which I did.
BH: And after having your eyes rechecked back in Jacksonville,
what happened then?
PB: I submitted the letter from the second eye specialist and
Tallahassee again rejected it.
BH: How did you overcome that rejection?
PB: Went back to the same optometrist a second time and had him
recheck my eyes a second time and this time requested he
give me a letter indicating his findings as well as his
license number, office number, and. home phone number so
Tallahassee could call and verify they he had checked my
BH: And what happened after you submitted all that information
PB: It was accepted.
BH: After the .....after being rejected by your eyes a second
time how did you overcome?
PB: I went back and had my eyes re-examined a second time and
submitted the letter back to Lt. Smallwood and at that time
it was accepted.
BH: After being accepted for the Highway Patrol Training Academy
how long was it before you got an opportunity to attend the
PB: It was approximately 2 or 3 months. I was hired and put on
the job training prior to reporting to the Training Academy.
BH: Where were you stationed for this on the job training?
PB: I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, Escambia County.
BH: Were you considered part of the Highway Patrol trainee
program at that time? Did they call it that? Did you wear
a uniform and what was the role prior to going to the
Academy? How did that take place?
PB: You were assigned..they were role duties as a trooper prior
to being released on your own the same as it is now with the
exception of it is not considered a trainee program. You
are assigned to someone who is responsible to train you to
familiarize you with the area to show you what reports go on
what form and how to investigate an accident and how to
determine who is at fault for an accident and what occurred
that caused the accident. After being trained for a month I
was released on my own.
BH: So what you are telling me is that you were hired as a
Florida Highway Patrol patrolman and you were assigned to
the Pensacola, which is Troop A, and you were given a
uniform with patrol car and gun and assigned to a trooper to
familiarize you with the area?
PB: That is correct. During that time that was allowable by law
because of the time period involved in getting someone to
probably stay enthused about the job and because the
Training Academy was so far off that they were allowed at
that time to hire people with the understanding that they
had to attend school within a 12 month period of being
BH: Alright, after .... how long was the training period you
said before was one month?
PB: Approximately one month to a month and a half.
BH: Who was your training officer when you first came on?
PB: Trooper Charlie Johnson.
BH: What type individual was he?
I & ; .
PB: Very good individual in my opinion. He was real fair with
the people. I think he was more than fair with me. He had
a lot of patience. Impressed upon me that the most
important thing I assumed was being fair and courteous to
the public and at that time he was in charge of the Highway
Patrol Auxiliary so he was used to working with men and he
also taught at the junior college, the breathalyzer course,
so in my opinion he was a very good instructor and made a
very good impression upon me.
BH: So you can safely say that Trooper Charlie Johnson
exemplified all the things that you thought about the
Florida Highway Patrol?
PB: That is correct.
BH: Okay, after getting on your own being a first black trooper
in Pensacola area and being the first black trooper in Troop
A, let's go with the aspect of the employees, how did the
people that..... the civilian personnel and the ....your
coworkers who was actually troopers, receive you as a
trooper there in Troop A?
PB: I think I was received rather well. I think also that I had
Lt. C.C. Wiggins who was the District Commander of the
Pensacola station to thank. I had heard that prior to my
arrival that they had made mention that a black trooper was
coming to Pensacola and again heresay his impression was
that he would treat a black trooper as a trooper as any
other trooper and there would be no segregation or
BH: How did it go with the general public as a trooper?
PB: Of course I think most of the blackS in Pensacola were happy
to see me and I think that it made an impression with the
kids in that area to see that Florida was hiring minorities
as troopers. I have had very little problems although there
have been some problems because I was black and a trooper in
northwest Florida especially in those areas because
Pensacola is on the Alabama line and there were some people
who I could tell didn't necessarily like it and I am
assuming that it was because I was black although sometimes
whatever happened to me may have happened to a white
trooper. I have stopped people who never say a word to me.
I walked up and greeted them and explained the violation
told them what action I was going to take and how to take
care of the citation and them never said a word other than
sign the citation and driving off.
BH: Can you think of any one incident that really stands out in
your mind that occurred to you while you were in Pensacola
as a trooper when you first came on prior to the Academy?
PB: In regard to experience or ....?
BH: Or maybe saying an encounter with a civilian that really was
obnoxious to the point of unreasonably?
PB: Yesi but I had a very elderly female who at an equipment
check was stopped for no driver license. I issued the
citation and apparently she was not aware that I could issue
her a citation. She was under the assumption that black
officers could not issue citations to whites nor could black
officers arrest whites and apparently because
the........carry over I guess from Charlie Johnson of being
patient I explained to her on several occasions that if she
did not sign the summons I would have to arrest her and take
her to jail and there was also an elderly white gentlemen
there that helped me by explaining to the lady that all she
had to do was sign the citation, appear in court, and show
her driver license and handle it in that matter as opposed
to me taking her to jail.
BH: I believe you said before that you patrolled the highways of
Troop A in Pensacola for about 3 months before going to the
BH: Do you recall the Academy class that you were in? The
number? How many?
BH: Do you recall how many minorities were in your class?
Females, ispanics, etc.
PB: There were only 3 blacks.
trooper, Roger Clark and mysel:
Jonas Jacobs who is still a
BH: Were there any females?
BH: After...while you were in the Academy class, how did the
Academy staff treat people? I know that by now several
minorities have been through the Academy. How did the
Academy staff receive you?
PB: The Academy staff I think received us well. There were very
few problems while I was at the Training Academy and at that
time Captain Barnett was in charge of the training and we
had Lt. Oliver, Sgt. Strickland, and Cpl. (Unk).
BH: Did anyone.....
PB: Excuse me his name was Cpl. Payne.
BH: How many patrolman showed up for your Academy class in all,
do you recall?
PB: I think approximately 50.
BH: Do you recall how many graduated?
PB: Approximately 45 or 42.
BH: For the names of the minorities that you called was in your
class I can say that all of them completed the Academy
class. I believe all of them are still on the Patrol.
BH: How was....can you describe any courses that ya'll took
while you were in the Academy?
PB: We took first aid courses, criminal law courses, accident
investigation course, public speaking, basically the same
courses that are being taught now.
BH: While you were in the Academy training, were you required to
BH: Who was the boxing instructor at that time?
PB: I'm sorry at the time I went through basic Academy, no we
had defensive tactics that was taught by Corporal Payne and
BH: Let's go back for a minute, who was the Director of the
Florida Highway Patrol at the time when you first came on?
PB: When I became employed it was......at the time I became
employed Elridge Beach had just been made the Colonel.
BH: Do you feel that at the time Colonel Beach really pushed for
minorities on the Florida Highway Patrol? Him and his
PB: I believe they did before they had assigned recruiters I
used to do some recruitment in the west Florida area from
Jacksonville all the way over to Pensacola. I think he was
putting forth the effort. Also, during his time there was a
meeting called of all minorities that were employed to
report to Tallahassee to address recruiting of minorities
and to get input from the minority troopers as to what could
be done to recruit more minorities.
BH: Okay you indicated just then that you handled some
recruiting for the Patrol from Troop A all the way over to
Jacksonville. Did you do that prior to going to the
Training Academy or after?
PB: No this was much later we are talking several years later
because at the time of the meeting there were probably 20 to
25 minorities at that time and each class after our class or
the class that I attended had numerous minorities in it.
BH: Did you attend the Academy class in the winter months or
during the spring?
PB: During the spring or summer. May through September.
BH: And upon completion of the class you were reassigned to what
PB: Back to Pensacola.
BH: How long were you stationed in Pensacola?
PB: Thirteen years.
BH: And during your tenure at the Troop A station in Pensacola,
what are some of the assignments that you did for the
Patrol? You indicated recruitment, is there anything else?
PB: Recruitment, prior to being promoted to Sergeant I was a
Homicide Investigator. I was in charge and coordinated the
Auxiliary for Pensacola District and that's about it.
BH: Do you recall how many individuals dropped out of your
PB: Yes approximately 5 to 7.
BH: After becoming a Homicide Investigator and then being
promoted to Sergeant, Troop A was your main duty station for
the first 13 years on the Patrol?
PB: Yes. I also was on the riot squad which is now called the
BH: And can you go back and tell me what year that you were
promoted to Sergeant?
BH: And at that time, how many minority Sergeants were on the
PB: There were none.
BH: So are you saying that you were the first minority to become
a Sergeant on the Highway Patrol?
PB: Yes sir.
BH: And upon being promoted to the rank of Sergeant, you were
reassigned to what troop?
PB: Troop L, Lantana, Palm Beach County.
BH: In order to get the promotion, how did you go through the
promotion procedure? Did they have test or were you picked
by being one of the longest blacks on the Highway Patrol?
Can you tell me?
PB: I was given the test as everybody else was and promoted
because of your test score. At that time evaluation was
still...still played a part in it in the overall score.
BH: During the time....you took the test several times before,
BH: And during that time....they had what they call point system
where you gained a half a point for every year you were on
PB: That is correct.
BH: Do you feel that the point system kind of held you back from
being promoted sooner?
PB: To a degree but I think you need something to account for
the experience of the person and I think it is....I can see
it today (unk).....that don't necessarily agree with
seniority. I think I went through the same phase everybody
else. I didn't necessarily like the seniority until I
obtained some seniority and I think it is fair.
BH: While you were ....being reassigned to Troop L as a Sergeant
and I think promoted, had they done away with the point
system when you got promoted or were they still on the point
PB: They still had the points I believe.
BH: So in fact the points really helped you get promoted after
being 13 years. That would make you have 6 1/2 points.
BH: Do you feel that the highest test score on a test for a
supervisor's position is going to make the best supervisor?
PB: No by all means. That means that that person is (unk)....
information and retained it and can do good on test scores.
I think it should be......that experience should count for
something as well as the information retained from the books
but I would rather see both.
BH: Do you feel that the system...the present system that we
have now is the best?
PB: Without the points?
BH: Without the points.
BH: Its 1:20 and I still have Sergeant Pembrook Burrows of the
Florida Highway Patrol and this is side 2 of the taped
interview into the Florida Highway Patrol oral history
program. Back to my earlier question we were talking about,
do you feel that the present system as being promoted to a
supervisor position and that is by scoring the highest score
on the test, do you think it is the best?
PB: No I think you need more than just the written test to
assess someone. At the present time, some stations have
gone to what is called an assessmentt center" and at this
assessment center it covers all of the responsibilities or
many of the responsibilities and duties of the Sergeant.
Our test is only a written test. The other states have gone
to an assessment center, have the written test, have the
oral test and what is called the "in basket" test which is
checking reports and it covers the duties of a Sergeant as
opposed to just one thing it being the written examination.
BH: Then you feel that the Director of the Highway Patrol should
have more input into who is selected to be a supervisor?
PB: Not necessarily on the....... not less than a Troop
Commander, no. I think when it comes to his administrative
staff he should and I would find it hard for the Director to
know 300 Sergeants to know if they are or should be
considered to be a supervisor.
BH: Okay, let's go on.... since you have been on the Florida
Highway Patrol, has there been any equipment changes in your
years as a trooper?
PB: Yes many. When I came on we had only a 2 channel radio but
now we have gone to a 4 channel radio and we are looking
forward to going to the 800 mz which will have many, many
channels. When I came on we only had one blue light and now
I understand there are two bulbs and now we are going to the
aerodynamic type bar lights. The walkies, hand held walkies
are something that was needed. We have gone from large 440
Dodges to 2 door Mustangs and I am sure based upon the
economy of the fuel and the price of fuel that it has helped
and I think it gives the person an option as to whether he
wants a large car such as a Ford LTD or a small 2 door
Mustang. We have gone from the cross draw holsters to right
handed holsters and again the option as to whether you want
to wear the cross draw or the right hand or strong side type
holster. When I first came on we only had the one (unk)
jacket that was supposed to protect you no matter what kind
of weather and now we have gone to the much heavier coats
with a lining as well as a windbreaker. So those are some
of the things that has changed since I came on.
BH: Okay, now that you are a Sergeant and you did your tour of
duty in Troop A and you have been transferred or reassigned
to Troop L, Lantana, your first....tell me how were you
received here in Palm Beach County as a Sergeant? We will
start first with the Department employees including the
troopers that you supervise and your supervisors and on down
through the clerks that work in the station?
PB: I think I was received rather well. I did not have any
problems. My immediate supervisor was Lt. Rogers who was
also a trooper in Pensacola with me so we weren't strangers
to each other. Also, in playing in the Police Olympics
basketball, Major Ray Peterson was the Troop Commander and I
met him because we played on the same team together so I
think I was received very well. I didn't have any problems.
BH: How.....were you the only minority Sergeant in Troop L?
BH: How long were you......I understand there was a female that
was a Sergeant here for a short period of time.
PB: That is correct.
BH: How long were you the Sergeant before she was promoted?
PB: Approximately 2 years.
BH: So you can say that your tour of duty as Sergeant in Troop L
so far there have been no problems?
PB: No more than any other new supervisor would have to
BH: When you first arrived here, who was the Troop Commander of
PB: Major Peterson.
BH: And who is the present Troop Commander?
PB: Major Driggers.
BH: His first name please?
PB: William Driggers.
BH: Can you describe any difference in the Florida Highway
Patrol from when you first came on to the present day?
PB: Other than equipment wise?
BH: Other than equipment wise as far as when you first came on
you had Eldridge Beach as your Director and now you have
Bobby R. Burkett as your Director. Can you compare the
difference between those 2 individuals as Director for the
PB: Comparison........ I think both Directors were good
Directors. I think Colonel Beach would give a trooper the
impression that he was a (unk) trooper that he had been
there and basically did not.....I think he led by example
more so and because the Patrol was smaller when I came on I
think you could do that. My highest ID was 897 when I came
on indicating that there were only 897 troopers. During
Colonel Burkett's time that number has almost doubled and I
don't think he can have the visibility of 1500 or 1600 men
and women as opposed to Colonel Beach who only had half that
number. I think we have progressed quite a bit under
Colonel Burkett or Director Burkett excuse me. In respects
that when I came on you basically only dealt with three
forms the accident report form, warnings for cards and a
ticket book and now under Colonel Burkett's era we have
progressed with respect that we have the necessary forms to
put certain information on. An example being (unk)....on an
accident report and under Director Burkett we have an
incident report to which we can put incidents on as opposed
to putting everything on the accident report. I think also
the change from throughout the state where as a beginning
trooper you could put any criminal charge on a citation and
it would go through the court system. Now we have the
criminal arrest report. We now have an incident report that
we can put down information or court information pertaining
to that case that would give the state attorney a better
overview of what the charge is and why the charge was made
and what supporting information you have to support the
BH: During Director Burkett's command of the Highway Patrol did
most of the equipment changes come under his era such as the
sonic lights, the removal of the cross draw holster,....
PB: Yes most of those things came under Colonel Burkett.
BH: The hand held radios and now even most of the new bullet
proof vests come with shields.
BH: So he has made a great impact on the Highway Patrol?
PB: He sure has.
BH: Do you feel under his rule he has given troopers new outlets
besides working traffic.
PB: I think he has done and is doing as much as he possibly
can. I have seen budget requests where he asks for other
outlets such as troop training officers, felony teams and
things of that nature, background investigators, recruiters,
and I think that any trooper that wants to get out of
traffic after he has done his time with respect to gaining
experience that there is something else for him to do as
well as court liaison officer and what have you.
BH: Since Director Burkett took over the Highway Patrol in 1982,
do you think he has exceeded in efforts to promote and get
qualified minorities on the Highway Patrol?
PB: Yes I think he has and it has been proven with respect to
that we now have recruiters where under Colonel Beach's
reign we did not and I think it was in the making at the
time Colonel Beach left that we were in the process of
trying or about to implement recruiters in order to obtain
minorities for the Patrol.
BH: Sergeant Burrows do you feel that Director Burkett has put
forth and is putting forth a diligent effort to get
minorities to take the test and be promoted?
PB: I think he is. I think he is doing as much as he possibly
can within the powers that he has. I think also in order to
get not only minorities but anyone to really want to take
the examination that you have to number one have the
adequate pay in that now in south Florida you earn the extra
money which is $5000.00 a year for being in south Florida
and it is hard to get a minority to leave the $5000.00 to
transfer out of that particular area into north Florida or
central Florida knowing he is going to lose money to gain
the rank so I think he has done as much as he possibly can
do to prevent which he has control over to try to get
minorities to take it but again it is going to take the help
of the legislature and the structure of the pay in order for
minorities in the south to want to leave to promote to go
into central or northwest Florida.
BH: Do you know any other way for yourself that could benefit or
maybe help get minorities promoted quicker in the Highway
PB: No more than the pay and if the pay....the salaries offset
or if there is a pay raise for a person coming out of south
Florida into central or north Florida then I am sure you
would see more minorities in the south taking the test.
BH: Okay tell me.....generally tell me how you look upon your
career with the Florida Highway Patrol.
PB: I look at my career as being a good career being a state
trooper is something I have always wanted to do since
childhood. It is fulfilling a life long ambition of being a
trooper. I would hope to promote and continue being with
the Patrol and as I promote I look at it as a stepping stone
into being a part of a great organization as well as the
challenge of going to newer areas and still being a state
BH: Can you name any other details you were assigned to since
being here in south Florida, while you were in Troop A, one
I bring to mind is being assigned to the Inaugural detail of
Governor Bob Graham at the time he was inaugurated as
governor of Florida?
PB: I have been assigned to many details and by being assigned
to those details I think I have gained quite a bit of
experience. Some of the things I did while in Pensacola I
was auxiliary coordinator, I got to coordinate security on a
derailed train that was carrying toxic fluid and I helped
set up and coordinate the security with respect to moving
people from their homes and transporting the demolition team
to come up and destroy the train or the toxic material on
the train. Also, I went through 2 hurricanes as a trooper
working security on homes that had....where the people had
been removed for safety reasons. I also worked a plane
crash while in Pensacola and those have basically been the
ones in Pensacola. While in south Florida..... well I was
still stationed in Pensacola I did attend and was assigned
to the Inaugural ceremonies for Governor Graham it was
basically platform security during him being sworn into
office. While in south Florida I have been assigned to the
Vice Presidential detail which was a transportation detail
security during his stay in Palm Beach County as well as in
Martin County. I also attended the Pope detail in Miami and
again it was a security detail (unk) SRT on call team that
was there and also I attended the Miami riots.....I also
attended the riots in Miami in 1980.
BH: Also did you receive any kind of a reward for saving a
PB: I received a Red Cross award and certificate that was signed
by the President of the United States and it was presented
to me by the American Red Cross.
BH: Can you tell us some of the details surrounding that
incident where you saved the person's life.
PB: The incident occurred the....I was on the midnight shift a
passing motorist advised that there had been an accident
with an overturned vehicle approximately 1/2 mile from me so
I responded to that location and found the vehicle
overturned and the driver had been thrown out of the vehicle
and checking for injuries on the driver I noticed that the
person had stopped breathing so I performed mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation until the ambulance arrived.
BH: This incident occurred in what troop, Troop L or Troop A?
PB: Troop A.
BH: While you were a trooper in Pensacola?
BH: During the.....you also indicated earlier that you played in
the Police Olympics was this during the time you were in
Troop L as a Sergeant or did this occur while you were in
PB: It occurred while in was in Troop A.....a little background
on that....the Sheriff's office throughout the State of
Florida sponsors what's called a Police Olympics. At these
olympics there are approximately 30-40 different type of
events that are being....police officers are attending these
events and participating in these events. You have of
course basketball, archery, weight lifting, judo, pistol
shooting, bowling, tennis, golf, swimming, diving and all of
the normal olympic events, table tennis is another one that
they have. These police officers throughout the entire
State of Florida be it local police departments, sheriff's
office, state and federal law enforcement officers can
participate in the Police Olympics. It is held annually and
one of the local sheriff's office in the state sponsors the
Police Olympics. It is a very enjoyable time. It is
approximately 4 days to 5 days the olympics is in session
and you are competing against other police officers by age
group to compete for awards and I think the olympics is a
very good organization that puts it together to give other
police officers throughout the entire state to meet fellow
police officers throughout the State of Florida.
BH: Also, let's go back a little bit.... during the time that you
were coming on the Patrol did you have any problem with your
height as far as them having a vehicle for you to use as a
PB: Yes that was another reason I was turned down because I was
too tall and in talking with Lieutenant Smallwood his advise
was to make an appointment to see at that time the Colonel
was Reid Clifton about my height so I made an appointment
with him and went over to Tallahassee spoke with him and
hopefully pressed upon him how determined I was that I
wanted to be a trooper. He in turn had a patrol car to come
by GHQ for me to sit in and I sat behind the wheel and he
sat on the passenger side 'and asked me if I was sure if that
is what I -wanted and I assured him it was. He said he would
waive the height requirement and by the way he is 6'10".
BH: Okay, during that time did you go into the Academy during
his tenure as the Director or was it after Eldrige Beach was
PB: I went to the Academy while Eldrige Beach....I was hired in
May and at that time Eldrige Beach was the Director.
Colonel Clifton had just retired but it was during the
change over. When I applied Colonel Clifton was in charge
and when I got hired Colonel Beach was.
BH: Did they make any special arrangements to the patrol car to
make it a little bit more comfortable?
PB: Yes we had to pick the seat up and move it back.
BH: And since that time I know there was a period of time during
the Patrol that we had smaller cars like the 85 LTD's, did
you have to...ever get a chance to use one of those or did
you stay in the big 82 LTD up to the time they went back to
the big Crown Vics.
PB: I still had a big Crown Vic even during that time period.
BH: Was that car specially ordered or was that one left over
from the 82 model?
PB: It was just one left over from the 82 models.
BH: Has there been any areas that we didn't cover? By the way
for the record how tall are you?
PB: Seven even.
BH: Just recently...maybe several months ago were you pictured
in the (unk) magazine in something that occurred in
PB: Yes I was fortunate enough to obtain a free trip to
Australia as an ambassor to promote goodwill between the
United States and the State of Florida and the Australian
Police Department and I got to spend approximately a week
and a half there and I was sponsored by one of the local TV
stations from Australia known as Network 10.
BH: And...how did you....did you enjoy your trip?
PB: Very much so.
BH: Anything else you would like to add about your Australian
PB: I had a very good time. I got to meet a very many
Australian police officers and the exchange of information
and I am sure you have those police officers over there who
have never been to the United States so they basically
wanted to know about the United States and about the
Mustangs and about the uniforms and we exchanged quite a bit
of information while I was over there.
BH: During....have you had any other problems while you have
been on the Patrol as far as inspections where you know they
have a monthly inspection as far as your patrol car, your
appearance, your weight, your height, have you had any
problems with any of those areas?
PB: Only one minor problem with my weight and that the
Department came up with some guidelines in respects to your
weight had to be in proportion to your height. Also with
that same guideline it said that if you felt that your
weight was not in proportion to your height that you could
seek medical advise or seek the opinion of a medical
physician. I went to the Health Department in Pensacola to
see how much a person 7 foot tall could weigh and in the
general order there was....it did not cover people that were
7 foot tall. In checking with the Health Department it was
found that there is no available data on how much a person 7
foot tall is supposed to weigh.
BH: When all of this took place did it take place under Director
Elridge Beach or under Bobby Burkett the present Director
when you had the problem with the weight?
PB: I want it to be under Colonel Burkett but I am not 100 per
cent sure when the policy came out.
BH: I think the present policy now with the Highway Patrol is
that if the doctor gives you a written slip saying that you
can be at that weight so that you can perform your duties of
a trooper ....the weight policy (unk)
PB: That is possible right.
BH: Have you had any patrol car accidents or have you been
suspended for any reason since you have been on the Highway
PB: Yes I have had one patrol car accident.
BH: And when did this accident occur?
PB: In Escambia County.
BH: How long had you been on when it occurred?
PB: One.....it was probably less than a year it could have been 6
months or so.
BH: And how many patrol car accidents have you had that you can
PB: Probably 6 or seven maybe 10.
BH: How many chargeable?
PB: Just the one.
BH: Can you give some details of that accident?
PB: I struck a barricade primarily.
BH: Just (unk) accident against an object?
BH: And you were given some time off?
BH: Do you feel that you were treated fairly?
BH: Has there been any other suspensions or any other problems
since you have been on the Patrol that you would like to
bring that come to your mind?
~ ~- t~
BH: Is there anything that you consider noteworthy that you
would like to comment at this time?
PB: Yes, in closing probably I look at myself as a pioneer for
those behind me with respect to things that I hope to do to
make it easier for the next minority that is following to
maybe be accepted a little bit better or to make it a little
bit easier for him that it won't be anything new to the
majority of the people that they have seen minorities in
supervisory capacities before and it has been an accepted
thing. I think it basically comes with the change of the
times whereas when I first became a trooper I think there
were very few whites that had attended high school with
blacks and probably the only other contact they would have
had would have been primarily as the military. This day and
time I think the majority of the high schools are integrated
so I think most whites are used to being around minorities
therefore they have a better understanding of minorities
which is basically that minorities want the same things that
any human being wants is an opportunity to obtain a good
job, to earn a living for his family, and to have the things
that any human being would like to have.
BH: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
PB: No sir.
BH: On behalf of Mr. Russ Garris and the Director of the Florida
Highway Patrol, we want to thank you for your time and this
oral history program and you should be receiving a copy of
the interview in the near future. Thank you.
PB: Thank you. /