DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEW WITH TROOPER BENJAMIN HOLLINGER, JR.
FEBRUARY 8, 1989
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY RAY PETERSON
** a v
RP: Today's date is March 29, 1989. This is a recorded interview
with Trooper Benjamin F. Hollinger Jr. My name is Ray
Peterson. Interview is taking place in West Palm Beach. The
time is 12:50 p.m. The purpose of the interview is for the
Florida Highway Patrol Oral History Project The Florida
Highway Patrol will observe its 50th anniversary in 1989, and
this interview will establish your knowledge and your input
into the past history of the Florida Highway Patrol. For the
files, please state your name.
BH: My name is Benjamin Franklin Hollinger, Jr.
RP: Ok. Where are you presently stationed, Benjamin?
RP: I am stationed at Troop E in Miami.
RP: How long have you been there?
BH: I've been there going on almost eight years now.
RP:- And'your present position?
BH: I'm a trooper and I
assigned to the Background
the Florida Highway Patrol
RP: Ok: Let me take you back then to before you were born.
are your parents from?
BH: My parents are from Alabama and (UNK) they still live in
Alabama in a small town call Monroeville, Alabama.
RP: What's that near?
BH: Ah, it's between Mobile and Montgomery 100 miles either way
southwest section of Alabama (UNK).
RP: That's where you were born?
BH: Ah, I was born in Marengo County, which is about three or four
counties over in a little town call Linden, Alabama but after
I was born my mama because her mother lived there at that
time. When she had me, she was there with my mother because
my father was a school teacher and he taught in a county two
or three counties over. So back during that time because
(UNK) the mothers always took care of the daughters when she
was going through a pregnancy or labor. So I was born in
Linden. So shortly after I was born I moved to Repton until
my father complete building our home in (UNK).
RP: And your dad was a school teacher?
RP: What did he teach?
BH: He taught in a rural area of black belt of Alabama out there
near uh the Mississippi line. He was a (UNK) teacher. You
don't hear that much about them, especially in South Florida.
But in rural counties they have what you call (unk) teachers.
that teach young men how to farm, how to have livestock, how
to be carpenters, bricklayers. It's a very (UNK) job that he
had also because his training he was also the (UNK) agent.
Back there during that time they didn't have, especially black
farmers, anybody to tell them about what to put on certain
crops, or why the chickens weren't reproducing, so his job was
to go out in the community to help farmers to produce better
livestock and help grow better crops.
RP: Who was he employed by? The school board or?
BH: Yes he was employed by the (UNK) County School Board.
BH: In (UNK) Alabama.
RP: He just mainly dealt with the black farmers there or?
BH Well, Sumter County was a rural black belt county. Most of
the whites that lived there were rich and they (UNK) where
that most of tne big land owners had to divide their
land up there and so many blacks. I think I remember them telling
me that what it was back there in that time if a black person
lived on a plantation that whatever quarter that his house was on
that became his.
RP: So your dad's dad is from that area?
BH: No my dad's dad lives in Repton where he's been all his life.
He had his own farm so he have a farm in Repton next to the
county where we live at.
BH: So my father I don't know how he ended up there. I think when
he finished college at Tuskeegee Institution, I think they had
what you call job placements (UNK) and that place was over
there in Marengo County, I mean in Sumter County because there
was nobody there to instruct.
RP: So what did your mama do was she at home or?
BH: Well my mother when she was going to college before she got
married she was in sports, basketball and volleyball and from
what I understand she was real good in sports. She was a big
lady she was like 6'5"
RP: Six foot five inches?
BH: Yes, she was a big lady about 250 or 260 pounds.
RP: How big was your dad?
BH: My dad is a small man.
RP: I bet he behaved.
BH: He was a small man.
RP: Great goodness alive, and you got brothers and sisters?
BH: Yeah. I have one brother under me and I have three brothers
under me and then I have a sister. My sister is not the baby
but, she's all our heart she's not a little girl she's 29 but
she's not married so we all look after her and make sure
nobody don't mess with her.
RP: How old are you, Ben?
BH: I am, well this year I am 38 this year now I just had a
RP: You are getting to the big 40.
RP: So that's where you grew up?
BH: Yeah I grew up my grandfather was a (UNK) and I stayed with my
grandparents majority of the time and went to church, as I was
growing up and when I went back home to my parents and later
on as I became a man I ran into a lot of people who knew me as
a small child that I didn't know. My grandmother was very
heavy in the church, she went to all the facilities and
conventions and she took me along, too. And a lot of people
knew me but I didn't know them. I was a small child; I didn't
RP: Were you raised by your grandparents quit a bit?
BH: Well up to the age of uh 4 I was raised by my grandparents. At
that time, my mother lived with my grandparents but my
grandparents took me everywhere because during that time back
there my daddy and his brothers they built a house that we
live in now in Alabama.
BH: It took time to build it and they did it on the weekend.
RP: Your granddaddy was a Baptist preacher. Did he do that full
time or did he farm?
BH: He had his own church and he was a farmer, and that's one
reason most of my aunts and uncles are into education because
they grew up on a farm and he didn't play. They had to work
and when they got a chance to go to school and get an
education, they got an education to get away from that farm
RP: So you grew through Elementary and Junior High and High School
BH: Well, the time when I went through school it was still
segregated and I went to a black elementary school which my
distant relative was the principal. Most of the instructors
there was family. I went to high school. there was a black
high school there and my distant cousin was the principal and
my aunt was instructor, most of the family my family was in
the education field and they mostly lived in the same
community where the farmland at down in Repton and all the
members follow there (UNK) and when they got a chance to get
an education they went to get away from the farmland and then
they came back home and ended up instructing at the high
RP: So you went to the same nign school.
BH: Yeah, I graduated there.
RP: What did you do in high school? Anything like, did you play
sports or did you play (UNK) or did you do anything like that?
BH: Well I played basketball and I was in the Future Homemakers
of America and I raised chickens, and I won a blue ribbon for
that. I raised about a hundred chickens. I didn't loose too
RP: Now the house your dad that you were living in that your dad
built, was that like on acres or farm?
BH: No, we had our, well it's kind of strange where we lived at in
there in (UNK) we lived in a (UNK) black community. The
community was surrounded by nothing but white people. Now
what happened what they tell me during the World War II,
there was a theory that the United States was going to be
attacked so what they did they built a astro out there where
my parents lived and after (UNK) it wasn't that many people
around and as years went by the community grew and everybody
started moving out toward the airport and then (UNK) they came
in and put some big plants there (UNK) and what they did they
took the astro and made it into a golf course because it had
so many run ways already straight so what they did they took
all that up and reset the grass and made a golf course out of
it. So as they so when the golf course was completed, a lot
of the white people started moving down to be close to the
gol. course in our community. The lana that all the blacK
Sa r! 1 1 e s
lived on in that area couldn't be owned by anybody other than
black so we stayed there all our lives and we was kind of
isolated from the rest of the black people during that time.
So I really I grew up with white people and white kids. We
had during the 60's it was kind of rough, I remember many of
night especially on the weekends especially on Friday and
Saturday night's, many nights we had to sleep on the floor in
our mother arms because of the Ku Klux Klan would come to town
and they would shoot in the window and stuff like that. It
was not safe to sleep in the beds so we would sleep in the
middle of the floor in the room and she would hold us in the
middle of her arms until the next day. It was Kind of rough.
A lot of times our father couldn't make it home on Friday
nights because fact that during that time black men wasn't
allowed to be on certain highways. Certain times of nights
you got caught out there you was in trouble so it was kind of
difficult. He had certain times he had to travel and he was a
hundred miles from our home to where he where he taught at so
he had to wait until real late at night especially on Friday
nights to come home to make sure he didn't get caught and
there was a lot of little towns he had to come through that
was really and a lot of Klan members lived there and it was
really bad. My mother was well known by everybody she was a
big lady she was real bright skin if you look at ner in tne
day you would thought she was a white woman you couldn't tell
the difference, but everybody respected ner. She didn't take
no stuff off nobody.
RP: At 6'5" she didn't have to.
BH: So she stayed at home. She was the type mother that she
didn't work when we was young, she stayed home and kept us.
She didn't go anywhere. If she was invited anywhere and we
wasn't invited, she didn't go. And that's the type woman she
was and even though we had relatives living right in the
community, she never left us alone. She always stayed home.
And when we learned how to work, she took us out and trained
us and showed us how to work side-by-side with her so she
always told us to work hard and she was right there to help us
work hard, but she was rough. She didn't take no stuff.
RP: Is she still alive?
BH: Yes, she's still alive. She didn't take no stuff off nobody,
but sometime when I was growing up I thought she was kind of
hard she was she had a quick temper. She was even the
community called her Big Red because if you stepped on her
toes she would turn red as a firecracker quick and she didn't
tell you not to. She just picked up whatever she could find
and gave it to you right. There that's the way she was.
RP: I bet your pop toed the mark didn't he?
BH: That's right. I imagine that's the reason he stayed away so
RP: Come home on Friday I guess he'll rather deal with the Ku Klux
Klan than her.
BH: It was a lot of fun and my mother we had a garden in the back
and during the summer we raised tomatoes and collard greens.
RP: Where did you raise those hundreds of chickens at?
BH: Right there at the house, it might be an acre we got a big
place. And I had my own chicken pens and my father made me a
(UNK) so I could (UNK) my little chicks. When I was little I
had a (UNK) so I could keep them warm when it got cold and I
had them where I could separate them especially when they
started trying to eat, especially when the large one tried to
eat the little one. (UNK) so I had plenty of room to separate
them and keep up with them but that was my project, and I got
a blue ribbon out of it, but it was a lot of hard work. I had
to stay out there at night with them especially when I had
some of them to come up with some kind of sickness or you had
to give them a special kind of water at a certain time. it
was a tough job and I made it through.
RP: And you learned a lot, too.
BH: I learned a lot.
RP: Well did you ever (UNK)-.
BH: No, I played at the high school and uh, later on I was never
into that and then I went to the junior college and I played
Baseball there because all my friends played and that's why I
wanted to play
RP: Just give me an idea what year was you in high school?
BH: Ok. Well back there during that time the high school went
from the 6th grade to 12th grade.
RP: Oh Ok.
BH: It wasn't until integration came in my hometown that they
started at the junior high school well really they had
elementary, middle school and high school and then when they
built the new high school in my hometown then they had a new
high school and that's been in the last, I think that happened
in about 1975.
RP: What year did you graduate?
BH: I graduated in 1969.
RP: 1969 so you missed Viet Nam?
BH: Well I was I had signed up for the draft.
BH: And I had been up to Montgomery to the Air Force Base up there
in Montgomery and I had had my physical, uh I had been through
the whole process, took the test, I was ready to go. I was
ready to go, I got to number if you recall they had a big
controversy that's when the war was coming kind of close and
they froze the draft. That was like 72 on the list to be
drafted and then when they started to draft back they had to
decide whether they was going to go back and pick up the names
that they missed in the draft it was a lot of people and mine
was 72 on the list to be drafted and it went like two or three
months they couldn't decide whether they were going to go back
to the month where they froze the draft and pick up or would
they start where they was in the draft. But they finally
decided to start where the draft was in that month and all the
people in that three months didn't get drafted because they
said it would throw the system off so bad to go back and pick
all those people up.
RP: But you was number 72?
BH: Yeah I was number 72.
RP: So they never got to you, you kind of died on the list?
BH: Yeah, I died on the list, It was like I forgot it was more
than I was 72 on the list but it was more than that on the
list. It was like a three month period.
RP: You was doing this before you even graduated you was trying to
get into the Air Force?
BH: No that was the (UNK) to be a (UNK) that was Gunter's Air
Force Base in Montgomery.
RP: Had you graduated out of high school?
BH: Yes I was out of high school.
RP: So when you graduated from high school, well let me ask you
this, where did you meet your wife? Was it before you went in
the service or after you went in the service?
BH: OK. I met my wife, me and my wife have basically known each
other all our lives; we were in the same high school.
RP: OK. That's good. That's all I wanted to know.
BH: Ok and she
RP: Ok. What's her name?
BH: Ok. Her name is Barbara Hollinger and she was like three or
four grades behind me but we was in the band and I was in the
12th grade and she was in the 8th grade I believe. And at the
time she told me that uh, I was too old for her but my mother
and her father work together they both work at the (UNK).
This was after we got up and I started taking care of my
brother's and sisters. At that time, I was my mother started
working when I got to the 10th grade I believe so I was old
enough to take care of the rest of the kids. So I took care
of my brothers and sisters and she would prepare all of our
meals in the morning and all I would have to do was get up and
put it on the plates and get them ready for school. And so
she had began working and so she and my wife's father who was
named Bishop Watts they both (UNK). He was a truck driver and
my mother was the cook for the guest house during that period
of time. Monroeville did not have hotels. They just recently
got hotel's in the last 3 years. They have what you would
call motels. So when buyers from Japan, Korea, England come
in they had built a great big beautiful guest house and the
president of the company came from (UNK) and he had his own
room there there. The chairman of all the boards had a room
and they had guest rooms for people from out of town. But
when buyers would come from New York or Los Angeles they would
stay at the guest house and my mama prepared the meal and plus
tney had a maid too. All ner job was just to cook. They had
a maid,-to take care of their needs so making their beds in
the m o rnin r
cleaning and ironing the sheets (UNK) and she had a good job
they didn't like leftover food so they gave us all the
leftovers, everything that was leftover.
RP: That's the best food.
BH: They would give it to my mother to bring home and I'm talking
about prime ribs, steaks, we had so much steaks and the only
problem she had she had to cook a lot of different meals
because they made sure that each individual that came down
didn't suffer. Whatever they wanted she prepared for them so
some nights she could cook as many as 10 different meals for
10 different people. As the board members got older each one
had a different problem. One would have high blood pressure
he could have this, the doctor said he could eat this or
that. So it came to when she had to cook as many as 12 to 13
different meals because each one had to have their own
different diet. So she had different menus from different
doctors for each one of them. So she had to prepare different
meals for each one of them. It was kind of (UNK) but she was
good at it.
BH: She knew how to order you out of the kitchen.
RP: Tough job. So your wife's dad worked there, too.
BH: Well he was a truck driver (UNK). He had to delivery to
different plants and so what he did he was like the bartender
when he wasn't driving he would bartender and be like the
butler you know and stuff you know after hours and plus when
they had the golf tournament there, my mama prepared all the
food for all the people they invited to the tournaments and my
daddy-in-law he was the he would cook he barbecue or and they
still do the same thing now my daddy in-law, the Hunting Club.
They had a big hunting club they invited everybody that did
business with them down during the hunting season and they
raised turkeys on there. They had a big parcel of land and
they raised the turkeys. Turn them a loose and let these guys
go out there and kill turkeys (UNK). they know how to draw the
business; they had it down pat.
RP: What's that called (UNK).
BH: Yes (UNK), If you go to Sears if you go to any Burdines any
the stores and look in the ladies lingerie you will see (UNK)
RP: And that's where they do their entertaining right there.
BH: Yeah, and they got big mills there. They have the sewing
plant the dying plant, and now they got the outlets where you
can go and Duy the same stuff that you buy in Burdines and
S e a r
and J.C. Penney's and all these stores you can go to the
outlet and buy it at a reduced price.
RP: Yeah I have heard of that.
BH: So they knew how to draw buyers. They would invite these,
people. Some of these people never had a gun in their hand
never killed and then what they would do,all the turkeys and
stuff that they would kill they had deers whatever my mama
would bring them home and we would clean them and they would
pay us $25 and $30 dollars a turkey and $50.00 sometimes and
she would pack it and when they flew back to wherever they
did they came from, it would hold like freeze it and it and
they would take it home and show it to all of their friends
and show them what they had killed while they was down in
Alabama. So they looked out for her. So me and my wife have
known each other a pretty good while we started dating when
she was in the 12th grade. We went together for eight years
and stayed together while she was going to college it was some
rough times in between and we got married in '79, the same
year I became a-police officer and then we've almost married
for 10 years.
RP: Your wife is a school teacher isn't she?
RP: So when you graduated from high school what did you do?
BH: Well I went to well while I was going to high school I worked
for my uncle and some Mortician and he owned a Vault Company
and a friend of the family. He owns a funeral home and my
uncle worked for him and sold insurance and his name is Mr.
Robert Jones. He got a home right down here i Palm Beach he
got money he's in the rich folks section. I think he was one
of the first blacks to buy a home in one of these
neighborhoods. When he came down to try and buy the house
they didn't know in Monroe what type of person he was. (UNK)
somebody from Palm Beach sent somebody up there to a check on
him to see what kind of person he was and everybody came back
and told him about it because he's big stuff in my hometown so
he knew about everything that was going on. So I worked for
my uncle while I was going to school and I drove a school bus
and when I graduated I couldn't drive a school bus anymore.
As a senior I could drive one of the senior buses.
RP: You drove a school bus as a senior?
RP: Well I'll be darned.
BH: And so after that I started working for my uncle putting down
vaults on the weekend and then the guy that was working
there with me quit so what I would do, I would make vaults in
the morning I would get up at five o'clock and go down to the
vault yard and make the vault go to school and get out at
12:00 come back at 1:00 and tear the (UNK) down work them out
and then pour some more that evening I did that for a while
and I did that while I was going to college and you know like
most people you work and go to school you know you start
enjoying all that money and start running after girls, and
then I made a big mistake I bought a brand new car and I sure
enough got wild and so then.
RP: So now you going to college and working at the vault?
BH: Yeah. And while I was working there I got interested in cars
so I bought a hot rod car. I brought a '72 chevell SS 454
(UNK) I bought it from Bob (UNK). Over there in Pensacola,
red white stripes.
RP: Hot stuff?
BH: Yeah hot stuff and every night I started playing around so I
dropped out of college I was lacking about 8 hours from
getting my 2 years degree at the junior college at Patrick
Henry. I dropped out and started working full time for my
uncle and then I got tired of that and I start working for
another friend of mine uh, I started working for Trooper Steve
Brent nere in Palm Beach.- At that time they weren't married.
I didn't know
Brent but his wife's daddy owned a mechanic shop in a black
community and I started working for him learning about cars.
I knew a little aboutcars because my dad also taught that in
high school so he made us work on his car and he would show us
how to fix (UNK) so I had a pretty good knowledge about
mechanics because he showed us how to do everything. So when
he was there, he made us learn how to work so I played around
with the vault company and I got real good at cars I was good
working on cars. I spent a lot of money hot rodding. I went
to I had as much work at home as I had at the job. I had
people that would bring their cars to my house and I would
work 9 hours at the job and go home and put in four to five
hours every day working on cars as home so I became real good
at it and then the Oldsmobile Dealership in my home town uh
found out it was hard to find good mechanics and so they asked
me to come up there and work for them so I went to work for
the Oldsmobile dealership and I started off (UNK) and then
they found out what good of a mechanic I was and then I
started to working on new cars and then they started to
sending me to school to Atlanta to General Motors Training
Center and then I started to working on new cars and cars that
people had problems with, cars that came through the shop and
they spent a lot of money on fixing it and it couldn't be
repair so well the mechanic couldn't repair it that was
working on it and the company had a lot of money and the
customers was upset so then they came to me to straighten it
out and so after awhile all the people wanted me to work on
their cars and so I had more cars, I had people who wanted me
to work on them at work and I had twice as many at home to
work on so I enjoyed mechanics. I enjoyed trying to figure
what was wrong with a car, tearing it down and putting it back
together again and then General Motors made the changeover in
1977 and started bringing out the diesel and the first K
cars. The first X-body is what it was called the front wheel
drive in the Citation and that's when I got kind of fed up. I
knew they was making a big mistake. I went up to the training
academy in Atlanta and worked on diesel Oldsmobile. We tore
it down and we put it together and they said it would work and
I told them they had a lot problems and I just got frustrated
uh, too many problems.
RP: O.K. Go ahead. Ben, this is the second side of the tape and
you was talking about the computers on these cars.
BH: Well after General Motors began to have so much problems with
the computers and the diesel you know I just I got kind of
frustrated and since all my friends was police officers and
they had always been trying to get me into police work and one
of my best friend he's a lieutenant there and he tried to get
me to come to the police department. And during that time
there was a time there when the black community wanted more
representation on the police department and so nobody wanted
the job so after talking to one of the Deputy Sheriff's who
had been there for awhile and my friend who was a city
cop and a couple of the white police officers who knew me from
working on their cars at the Oldsmobile place they came by and
talked to me. So I finally made up my mind to go ahead and take
the job. I started working for the Police Department right around
the time my wife said let's get married. (UNK) Our families said
we got to do something.
RP: Well what year are we talking about now?
BH: We are talking about 1969 I mean '79.
RP: You had been going with your wife the whole time from when she
was in high school?
BH: Yeah we started to dating when she was in the 12th grade and
she went through college and came back and she was teaching
school at the elementary school there in town and my family on
both sides her mother and father told us either you all and my
mother and father said well you all have been going together
long enough. It's time for the foolishness to stop either
yall are going to get married or you all going to break up.
RP: Alright now what year did you all graduate from high school?
RP: So we are talking about 10 years later?
RP: Well now OK you are supposed to be joining the police
department and you know you are being pushed to get married
too. Alright now, go ahead.
BH: So they figured we were going to break up. We weren't going
to get married but we fooled them and didn't break up and then
they all got sad when we set the wedding date then everybody
got sad because I had been living with my parents. My mother
she stopped driving several years ago because of her nerves
she just you know her nerves had got too bad for her to be
driving a car so she depended on me for her transportation and
my mother-in-law she had a problem because she had got hit by
a car one night. She was walking on the side walk and
somebody hit her hit and run and she didn't never been right
since you know she could drive but she couldn't drive at night
so my wife had to take her also and so we decided to get
married and everybody got sad because they didn't want us to
get married, well they wanted us to get married and then they
didn't want us to get married because they knew we would be
going our separate ways but we didn't move. We moved close to
my parents and not far from her parents and by that time I had
talk to my wife and I told her I wanted to get on the police
department and so we got married on the 31st of the
30th of June and I started to working with the police
department on July 5th.
RP: And this was 1979?
RP: What's the name of the police department again?
BH: Monroeville Police Department.
BH: Monroeville and that's in Monroeville County in Alabama and so
I stayed there and I worked the first year as patrolman. They
had the plan just like Florida had. You could work up to a
year before you had to go to the police academy, I work the
first year and then to the academy and I went down to (UNK)
Alabama for uh six to eight weeks academy down at the
Southeast Alabama Criminal Institute at (UNK) College and I
finished the academy and became a (UNK) police officer I enjoy
being a patrolman. It was a lot of fun and lot of politics, I
didn't like the politics I got tired of uh as long as you was
arresting poor blacks and poor whites it was alright but the
other people got away with murder and you just side step. You
just didn't mess with those people. It kind of got to me and
I just didn't feel the law was designed to be
distributed that way. I felt that the law should be
distributed equally to everybody and I found out quickly that
it wasn't like that and that you had to play by their rules.
So I kept my mouth shut and I did what I was told to do.
Sometimes I would have to write reports on break-ins and you
know and I used to go there and things just wasn't coaching
the way the break-in looked. I know one incident where a guy,
one of the rich people, had 75 thousand dollars worth of
silver taken out of his house and that's all they took and he
had antique guns and jewelry and in his wife's room and nobody
took none of that and the chief told me that he got insurance,
don't worry about it. So you know I just felt that I was
getting too much and then I work an accident on one of the
junior college. They struck her daughter one night. She was
drunk and she had just got a brand new car and I did the
report and I went to the hospital and you could smell the
alcohol all over and even the nurses said she had been under
the influence and she was totally out because I worked the
midnight shift and nurses at the hospital we were good friends
because we knew we had to depend on each other because in my
home town everything dies after 10:00 o'clock and the only
people out after that time of night is the police and nurses
(UNK) and the girls at the seven til eleven the convenience
store and we became like a family. You look out for them and
they look out for you, you know you go by there and check on
them and they appreciated the girls at the hospital and most
of the time the emergency room staff they are the ones that
got all of the bad cases
people coming in late (UNK) fighting out of there head on
drugs and alcohol and they would have to go out their and try
to restrain them. But we became real close and so I filed a
report and about a month later the car was brand new. They
had just bought the car that Saturday and the daughter was not
supposed to be driving the car and it was a Grand Lemans X-R7
and she was not supposed to be driving the little sports car.
She wrecked (UNK) and so when the insurance company started
doing the investigation and found out that she was driving the
car when it was a total loss, they refused to pay the claim on
the car so then they wanted to change accident reports so the
chief called me in and told me that I put on there that the
contributing cause of accident was due to the influence of
alcohol and he wanted me to change the report. One part of
the report had already gone to Tallahassee I mean to the
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Alabama and
I told him I wasn't going to change the report. I told him he
was the chief, he could change them. So I just didn't like
the way things was going off and I start looking for a way to
get out I did my job I came to work and I kept my mouth shut
and played by their rules because I knew down the road that I
would have to get a recommendation if I ever got hired by
anybody else so I didn't go and cut my own throat I just did
my job and I put in an application with the Alabama State
Trooper and Georgia Highway Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol
and how I got interested, I had an Alabama application in
first and the Alabama list was so long and
during that time they was under mandantory hiring so many
blacks to so many whites and the list was long I was like
nine or eight hundred on the list. They had a black list and
a white and I was and every year I took the test I couldn't
get any closer to getting hired and they were having a class
like every once a year. One weekend me and my wife and a
girlfriend we went to Florida a lot because we had kin folks
in Florida. I had a first cousin living down there. He's a
school teacher in Pensacola so we used to go down there every
weekend and one weekend I was coming back up U.S. 29 between
U. S. (UNK) I got stopped by a Florida Highway Patrol I had
been stopped by a Florida Patrol.before so it didn't scare me
or nothing and he came up and he was so nice to me and he said
good evening sir.
RP: Was he white or black?
BH: He was white and I had seen (UNK) is also down in Pensacola
and I never met him but I saw him standing by the patrol car
and he was tall.
RH: He's still tall.
BH: And I never met a policeman so polite to a black person. Most
of the policeman, even in my hometown, even if they knew you,
they called you boy or they called you some kind of name.
never said sir or nothing like this Florida Highway
Patrolman. He was so nice I couldn't believe it. I never met
nobody that nice. Policemen the most of them was rough and
they came on rough. They made you kind of nervous but he came
up and he said and I met him. I was going northbound and he
was going southbound and he clocked me on radar and he turned
around and I saw him when he hit brakes so I had pulled over
to the shoulder of the road and my wife was in the car and I
think my brother was in the car with me. And he walked up to
the car and said I forgot exactly what the speed was and he
was so nice and he said can you give me a reason why you was
running so fast and I had made up a lie to tell him an he was
so nice I couldn't tell him so I took the ticket. I think it
cost me twenty some dollars and that's how I really got
interested. So I went down a couple of times and they had a
big recruitment on and I went down to the old Pensacola
station out there near the bridge and talk to (UNK) one time.
At that time I didn't meet the requirements. I don't know
what it was I don't know if I was old enough or something that
they required that I didn't meet the qualification.
RP: Now were you at that time working for the police department?
BH: At that time I wasn't working for the police department.
RP: This is before you went to work for (UNK) and before you were
married so you'd been interested in the Florida Patrol before
1979 this must have been?
BH: Yeah it was some reason I didn't it was some reason when I
went down before I didn't meet the qualification. I went in
and talked to him. They had Trooper Burrough they had him in
the office then and I went in and talked to him and he told me
they were looking for minorities but it was something I didn't
meet as far as the requirements. And I didn't give up and I
was still trying to get on with Alabama and after I became a
policeman there and after the incidents there I really got
interested I went back down I think I went back down there
again and got an application and I sent it off over there in
Tallahassee and they sent me a letter and the first couple of
times I went to Marianna, that's when I really got serious
about I went over to Marianna and met with then it was
Corporal Jones then now Colonel Jones he was over that station
at that time and might have been Sergeant Jones at that time
because he weighed me and he was going to give me the
polygraph but I was overweight he wouldn't polygraph me so at
first when I applied I know what happened. they got me mixed
up with I put on the application that I was from Monroeville
and they thought I was from Monroe County in the Keys and they
had me going to down to Troop E To see Captain Carmody to help
me get started with the selection process. So it took
sometime to get that straightened out. My paperwork had went
Troop E and it took a couple of months to get that
straightened out and to get the paper turned back around to
come back in this direction and they finally sent me on over
to Marianna and then they sent me a letter saying that I
didn't meet the qualification because I was overweight and so.
RP: How much did you weigh?
BH: I was 210 pounds.
RP: How much do you weigh now?
BH: I weigh a 195 now. But during that time they told me they
wanted me to get down to 137 pounds and it took me about a
month and I got it down and they sent another letter back to
me to report to Tallahassee to Troop H Headquarters. And I
went over there and I took the test. I had took the test in
Pensacola and I took the test again over there and then they
took me out to get the eye examination and I had just had an
incident with a prison corporal. We had arrested a guy. The
coporal had the prison and he let the prison flew around and
got aloose the prison struck me right up there and I had a
injury up their and they wouldn't let me go further in the
selection process because they said I had that injury so I had
to wait a little bit longer and so I went back home and I
didn't give up after tnat Injury neal I went back over there
to allahassee again and uh this time made it as far as the
eye test and the physical and I made it as far as the physical
and saw Doctor McCoy up there in Tallahassee and he wouldn't
pass me. He said I had a hernia. Then I went back to Alabama
and I called a friend who was a lieutenant with the police
department there. he had just had surgery that summer before
in Mobile and I asked him who was the doctor that gave him the
surgery and he told me Doctor Walker. So I called Doctor
Walker's office and I told him who I was and he said come on
down. And that was on a Thursday that I called and I was in
Tallahassee on a Wednesday. So that Thursday I called him and
he told me to come down Friday morning and he said that would
be the quickest that I could see you. And I went down on
Friday and he checked me and he said yeah you have a hernia.
Can you go in the hospital and I said yeah and I called my
wife back and told her they were going to keep me and he told
me he would do surgery on me first thing Monday morning. And
so he checked me in the hospital that Sunday that Saturday and
they did all the tests for the post-operation. They got me
preped Sunday and I had surgery that Monday my wife came down
and I stayed in the hospital that Monday, Tuesday and
Wednesday. My wife took me home and I went back in thirty
days and got a clean bill of health. I went back to
Tallahassee, I wrote Tallahassee. And told them I had surgery
and that I had the hernia corrected. They wanted medical
reports. uh I sent the medical reports (UNK) I went back and
saw Doctor McCoy and he said I was in good physical shape and
then I went to take the eye examination. Then I failed the
examination because I had (UNK) where I was hit right over
here over my eye so I went and saw a (UNK) I can't think of
his name right now and he put me on a special treatment for
about a month. About a month or six weeks he gave me
treatments and he said the problem could be cleared up and I
went there for six weeks and the problem cleared up. And he
wrote a letter to Tallahassee saying that my eyes came into
the guideline what the patrol required and they sent me
another letter saying I had passed that part of the selection
RP: Now all this time you are still a policeman in Monroeville?
BH: All that time I was still a police officer, so I didn't give
up. One night I got a call from Major Bull at that time was
Captain Bull. No, at that time he was Sergeant Bull and he
was at the GHQ he was handling Lieutenant Bull he was
handling all the applicants and he called me up and he said
I've been trying to get in touch with you for a pretty good
while. And he called me about ten o'clock. What happened I
was working the midnight shift and when I got home I wouldn't
go to sleep. I would do my PT first thing in the morning and
then I would go and work on cars until about three or four
o'clock in the evening and then the rest I would sleep. The
rest I would sleep until time to go to work I didn't have to
De to work until eleven o'clock. My wife and me had a kind of
hectic schedule she had to be at school at seven. So we were
passing each other ino the morn inrg: I was toinq h off
from work and she was going to work and we would meet right by
the school because the police station was about two blocks
from the school. So we would so when I come down the street
in the morning, I would meet her at the traffic light and
going home the most of the time when she got home from work I
was asleep and when I got up she was going to bed. And we did
that for three years while I was at the police department. So
one night it just happened I was outside working on a car and
it was on my night off, too. It was on a Wednesday night
because I had Wednesday and Thursday off and I heard the
telephone ring and I ran in the house and it was Lieutenant
Bull and he said are you Benjamin Hollinger and I said yes.
He said are you still interested in being a trooper I said yes
sir I sure am he said could you be in Tallahassee on such and
such a date and I said yes sir I sure can. So I went over to
Tallahassee and went to the Academy and they gave us the Oral
Interview Board and when I got through with well what they did
they had a lot of people there. It was about fifty some
people there that day I remember they gave first they gave the
person the farthest the polygraph (UNK) and Lieutenant Eugene
Register, he was at the Academy, he gave me the polygraph and
when I got through he had also in the room with him I believe
was Lieutenant Don Brown because I think Lieutenant Brown had
must have just finished the polygraph school and he was
sitting there as an observer I think you have to be an
observer, for so long. I remember him sitting in the back of
the room area and when I got through with the
polygraph they took-me upstairs to the Oral Board and there
was Captain Roddenberry. Captain Roddenberry was doing the
Oral Board and Major Oliver was doing the Oral Board it had a
female on the Oral Board I don't know who she was could have
been. And they had two other people on the Oral Board I don't
know who they was and they asked me questions. And I think
Captain Roddenberry, I think was the hardest one on me. He
gave me a thorough going over and I remember him because he,
and I concluded that all in one day and they sent me back home
and they said I would hear from them and about that time I
knew Alabama had did my background because I knew a lot of
troopers because by being a mechanic, the policemen know the
best mechanic and so I knew all the state troopers that knew
me because they had been there a long time. And they knew my
family and they knew I worked for June Bug and I knew the
wrecker driver of the city garage. They were all friends so
they used to call me June Bug, Jr. Brent Steven Brett wife's
father that owns the garage they used to call me his son
because I work for him and they knew I worked for him so I had
talk to the state trooper and I asked him had they concluded
my background. And that was just the time when Alabama went
to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation when they started
having troopers going to their Bureau to do background. So
these guys started wearing plain clothes so I knew the guy and
I called him up over there in Evergreen because that's where
the headquarters was in my district. They talked to him and
he said don't worry I'm going to take care of you. I'm going
to get it done and
he got it in like he had promised and everybody in my hometown
they knew me. My family was well known, you know. So I came
on with the police department and they didn't even do a
background check because they knew me when I was a small
child. Everybody knew me. The community had made up in my
hometown, the decision had already been made by the whites and
the blacks that it was alright for me to be a police officer
and so they didn't have to check. The community had already
came to an agreement without doing the check because I been
there all my life and I had never beei away from home. The
furthest I had been from home was during that time was
Burmingham and Pensacola. But I had been there all my life
right there in Monroe I had never been nowhere, a home-grown
boy and so me and my wife went to Atlanta. We went over there
one Christmas. That was in 1981. And when I got back I had
got my package saying I was hired It arrived December 17,
RP: So that was the year you was hired in 1981?
BH: Yeah I was hired. The letter that, back then the letter said
you have been hired by the Florida Highway Patrol as a Law
Enforcement Officer and you will be notified for the next
available academy and then about a couple days later I got a
phone call from Tallahassee telling me that I had to report to
Panama City, Florida, as a trainee and they gave me a hiring
date of January 15, to be at Panama City in 1982 at
Troop A headquarters and to meet Captain J. R. Henderson and
that I would be there til the next academy class started. I
didn't have to take it. They asked me if I wanted it and I
wanted it. I you know, I wanted to get away from that police
department. You know I hated to leave friends but it was just
getting to be too much and I felt it was time to move on and I
felt it was time for me to go while I was still before
something bad happened I was afraid that something was going
to happen and I was going to get caught in the middle and it
might mess me up, you know, the rest of my life.
RP: What about Alabama? Did you ever hear from them?
BH: Yeah. I was still high on the list and I could never get down
on the list and in Alabama there was a lot of politics really
to get on the highway patrol. You really had to go into
politics with certain people and I had made up my mind. My
mama always told me you work for what you want and I wanted to
get it on my own because I didn't want it to come back and
said I owed it that you helped me and I owe you a favor. I
always have been afraid that sometimes you get in situations
that when you take favors, later in life somebody might come
back and want that favor returned and it might be one of those
decision that it might go against your principles or you might
have to do something that you will regret later that will
really cost you your career. So I tried to stay away from
asking people to help me when I got this job on the police
department. I didn't ask nobody. They came and asked me.
When I came with the Highway Patrol, I didn't know anybody in
Florida. I didn't call anybody. I didn't know anybody.
Everything I done, I done on my own.
RP: You just competed for the position?
BH: I just competed for the position.
RP: Ben, did we leave your military service or we did the service?
BH: No, I didn't go into the service.
RP: Oh, OK. I just wanted to ask that. I thought we hadn't
BH: But I reported to Troop A Headquarters, me and two other
trainees, Trooper (UNK) Aderson and Trooper Don King. Me and
Trooper Aderson was the two only black troopers in Panama City
even thought they had Trooper Burrough who is Sergent Burrough
now, he was stationed in Pensacola. The Bay County and Panama
City area never had any minority troopers there so when we
reported, Captain Henderson called us in that morning and he
spoke with us and he told us this was going to be the first
for Bay County and even though Troop A did have a black
trooper in the troop, his assignment to the Escambia County
area and (UNK) that ne never did any reports in Bay County
(UNK) coming back and forth. He said I don't know how the
troop is going to react to ya'll. I don't know how the
community is going to react but if you hear such around the
station or if anyone in the community makes any statement
don't feel bad because it's going to be a first for
everybody. And he told me some of the people around here are
used to saying certain things and something might slip so
don't take it too hard. And we had a good talk and we had a
good time over there and the troopers there they was very
professional and they had been on a long time. Most of them
had I think the youngest trooper there was Pennington who is
down here in South Florida on the Turnpike in Troop K he was I
think the youngest trooper there at that time and I think he
had about ten years on. I think the rest of them was fifteen
and above and basically the troop in that area Trooper (UNK)
he had like twenty some years twenty-five or twenty-six years
on. Wesley Bowen, he had twenty-five years. Buddy Gillman,
he had twenty some years on and these guys they took us in.
We never heard any kind of racial statements, no kind of dirty
jokes, nothing. Everybody at the station treated us
professional Captain Henderson was an excellent commander
Lieutenant Smith who is a major now, troop commander, is
lieutenant. We never had any problem with him. Captain
Gomillian who was now the investigator over there as a
sergeant, he was very nice to us in 1981 and 1982 and they had
a new sergeant over there. A young guy just made sergent and
he was real nice I can't tnink of his name right -now. I
think he is a lieutenant now but we had a enjoyable time over
RP: On the ending of the last tape you was talking about (UNK) in
Pensacola about J. B. Dodson had kind of taken you under his
wings not under his wings, but everybody being trained.
BH: Yeah, J. B. Dodson took us and every night he took us out to
eat pizza and we met his wife and we had a good time. He took
us to his house and we played basketball and we jogged and we
had a good time over there. Everybody was good to us. The
community was good and we enjoyed ourself. At first it was
kind of difficult because I had to make arrangements to live.
Trooper Alderson had relatives there. Don King, he had
different, he had just retired from the Air Force so he was
already living in the area and so fortunate I had relatives.
I found out from my aunt during the Christmas holidays that I
had relatives down there in Panama City and I had on my
grandfather's side his brother well not his brother his daddy
brother had a son that lived there and so I called him up and
got in touch with them (UNK) and I lived with them the month I
was there until I had to report to the academy class on
2-15-1982 and then I reported to Tallahassee.
RP: Where was your wife at this time?
BH: Well my wife she stayed in Alabama I didn't see no need to
upset the family about it. We had talked about the Highway
Patrol. At first she never believed that I would leave
Monroeville. She felt because I had been there all my life I
never wanted to go anywhere because at one time she wanted us
to move to Atlanta because she liked Atlanta and I told her no
I didn't want to live in Atlanta. So she was surprised and
she thought that I would just go along with me and see what
happened. And I finally got the job and I went to Panama City
she saw I was real serious and a lot of people thought I was
just playing around when I told them I wanted to move further
so I went to Panama City and I enjoyed myself had a good time
and met a lot of good people.
RP: Did you have children then?
BH: No, we didn't have any children. We still don't have any
children but and then we reported to the Academy class academy
training up in Tallahassee on 2-15-82. It still was a little
difficult for me because I had never been away from home I
always been a family person because everything we did was
family. My mother she brought us up and she always brought us
up to have things together and even my brother under me and
the one under him we used to have barbecues every Saturday and
we have our friends come over. My mother was a wise woman in
a lot of ways because she knew how to (UNK). She let us bring
our friends on Saturdays -ana Sunaay. We barbecued every
Saturday and Sunday. She didn't condone us drinking but she
knew that as young men we were going to drink so what she did
she made it where we could do it at home. So we would have
our friends over and we would have beer and we be at home when
it's all over with and never had to worry about us being in a
car or nothing. So we was very fortunate we had a mother like
her. She took the time. All of our friends called her mama.
She was just like a mama to all of us. She cooked enough food
for everybody when she cooked dinner because we was always big
eaters, so she always cooked. It was always plenty there to
eat so when she fixed dinner she fixed enough dinner for
twenty people and so when my friends came nobody had to go
anywhere for dinner. It was enough dinner for everybody and
we never had to go out or run away from home, go anywhere to
have fun. We had it all right there in the yard and we had
plenty of people to come by. She always had our (UNK). She
knew where we was all the time. She never had to call looking
for us so it was a lot of people surprised when I told them 1
was going to the Highway Patrol.
RP: (UNK) after all those years.
BH: After all of those years it shocked a lot of people uh even
the chief, he came and talked to me and some of the council
members came and talked to me and asked me was I sure if
that's what I wanted to do. And after I left while I was in
the Training Academy over there in Tallahassee for the eleven
weeks, they didn't fill my position. They felt that I was
going to come back.
RP: No kidding?
BH: And I went to the Training Academy and it was a new
experience. I never been around that many people before. I
was kind of shy. I didn't know a lot of people from different
places. We had our class. Our class was the 64th class and
we had fifty-some -candidates there and I was thinking about
this. I went back and went through some of my papers and
found out that when I started over there in Panama City as a
trainee they started me off at $1047.55 and it's amazing how
much things change. And then when I went to the academy I got
a pay hike up to $1164.00. I never thought about that. I was
so thrilled to be in the Highway Patrol that I never thought
about the money.
RP: How long was you a trainee? About a year, right?
BH: No, I was a trainee about 1 month before I went into the
Academy. I reported there on 1-15-82 and then I went into the
academy on 2-15-82 one month and we had eleven weeks of
training and out of my class it was different. We had a lot
of different individuals. At first, the class didn't want to
pull together it was, they had our class I don't know how
the other classes was out they really worked
on us. We was in trouble every day. We had a lot of people
who wanted to be separated. We had a lot of individuals that
didn't want to associate with certain people and in our class
we had I think it was 5 black males including myself and 4
females and 1 hispanic male. I think that was kind of large
minority class considering the class that had been through in
the past and they had their job cut out trying to bring the
class together as one unit.
RP: Who was in charge of the class then? Betts?
BH: No, at that time it was Captain Saunders.
RP: Saunders OK.
BH: He was the Captain and Lt. Betts was the Assistant Training
Officer and they had sergeant, I can't remember his name right
now but the first sergeant that did all the running Billy Lee
or Billy R. Lee, he was the first sergeant and then they had
at that time Corporal Mike Boles. He had just became corporal
and he was assigned to the Academy and they had Sergent Land
who was the sergeant there and they had also as their Firing
Instructor Sergeant Bishop. I think he is a lieutenant now.
And they had a hard time trying to get the class to come
together but we lost out of that class eight out of fifty and
forty-two of us graduated. One guy by the name of Hodge he
got kicked out the tenth week on a
Wednesday. They had talked to him over the weekend and told
him that he needed to calm down and he didn't listen and he
missed one point on a test and they sent him home and I think
that's when they got everybody's attention.
RP: They made believers out of you.
BH: Because nobody believed they would send anybody home that
close to the end of the Academy in the tenth week and we had
in my class, I was 31 at the time and Don King was 40 some
years old and me and him and maybe one or two others were the
oldest in the class. But our class was basically a young
class, young kids and it was different and you could tell the
difference with the age group that they came from a lot of the
young guys keep to themself or they didn't associate with the
minority. And the Academy staff was trying to bring the class
together as a whole, as a group, as one and you could tell the
age difference. We had about three or four Marines and you
could tell they were different, too. They were wild and we
used to call them the wild bunch. They did crazy stuff. They
stayed in trouble and Hodge for one of them they had that
Marine wild drinking on the weekend, wild they were wild.
They went out and they let their hair hang. They stayed in
trouble, very Monday they were in trouble for something they
had did over the weekend. They had a man talking to them
trying to calm them down.
RP: And they are still on the Patrol, aren't they?
BH: About two of them got fired and later was rehired on the
incident that happened over there in (UNK) County concerning
the getting paid for.
RP: Subpoena checks?
BH: Subpoena checks, and Sergeant (UNK) who is now Lt. (UNK).
He's an instructor at the Academy but I think three of them
are still on the Academy. One of them, he quit. He got in
trouble when he was assigned to his first troop then he left
the Patrol and went to Hawaii, came back and I don't think
they took him back. Four out of them I think it's only one on
the Patrol now. They was rough. They didn't listen.
RP: So you made it through?
BH: I made it through, me and my roommate Richard Hunter from over
there in Palatka. He was a family man and he was about the
same, you know, he had a wife and a child. You know his wife
was a school teacher and my wife was a school teacher and we
both had obligations. We came there for business. You know,
we weren't there playing and stuff we were roommates and it
was good you know and we weren't wild. We used to stay up at
night and study til 2:00 O'clock in the morning. I think they
really got our attention because during that time if you
missed two tests you
would be kicked out of the academy. Me and him missed the
Criminal Law Test together and they really got our attention
and after that weekend that we missed the Criminal Law test,
we got under the sheet, under the blanket at night with
flashlights and asked each other questions every night until 2
and 3:00 o'clock in the morning. And we pulled each other
through. Boy we was a nervous wreck. We flooded it out but
we made it.
RP: Is he still on the Patrol?
BH: He is still on the Patrol he went back to Palatka and he is
still over there and everybody speaks highly of him. I talked
to some of the troopers from that area not too long ago.
RP: Where did you go?
BH: Well me and him both was stationed in Miami. He got stationed
in Miami. The only thing different he had relatives down in
Miami so he had a place to stay. When I went down there I
didn't have anybody. I had to be there May 17, 1982 and I
went down there and I met a trooper by the name of Jerry
McCray when I first got there and I ended up staying with his
uncle over in Overtown who was a Bailiff for one of the judges
down there and 1 stayed there until I was able to find me a
place to stay. It was Major Jerry McCurry that had just came
out oif he Academy he had just got off training. He had been
off for about eleven weeks and he stayed with his uncle and
all. He was the black trooper in that troop that helped me
find a place to stay. Nobody else had nothing to do with and
then Nick (UNK) one Hispanic guy that was in our class who was
from Miami originally, he had checked around on some
apartments and he, myself and about eight other troopers that
was living in the same apartment complex, he helped us get a
pretty good deal. John Roberts and him had a room together.
I ended up having to get a place by myself. I couldn't get
nobody to stay with me, s6-I had to foot the whole bill on my
own and I ended up spending $1,200 dollars just to get an
apartment (UNK) last month so I was pretty well broke and my
wife she stayed in Alabama. We decided that she would stay
there until I got my feet on the ground and would move down
right now so she stayed in Alabama and I went down there. And
I told my mama then that I was going to make it on my own. I
was going to do what I could.
RP: When you was going through zhe Academy, what was the worse
place that you could get sent?
RP: And everybody was afraid that they was going to get sent to
got the letter my first letter when I first came on
me going to Deland and me and my wife had got a map
and we had we had looked at the Florida map and figured out
where Deland was and
have to go there.
going to Deland she
Deland because she
clear interstate, we
second letter and
didn't think so. I
stay here and my
her daddy was there,
on to Miami and I
we had came to well
And she and I had a
had made up her mind
said it didn't look
can go back home. So
told her I was going to
didn't want to push her.
mother, she lived not f
they could take care of
loaded up everything up
you got there we
already talked about
she would go to
too bad and we got
when I got the
Miami she said she
I said well you
ar from my mama and
her. So I went
in my car and good
way it worked out well because the Academy. was over in the
latter part of April, first part of May we got two weeks off
and I didn't have to be in Miami until May 17. And so she was
going to get out of school about that time, too, so about time
I got situated in Miami, she came down in July and bought some
more things for us to live and she stayed the whole summer so
it wasn't too bad. It worked out fine I had got an apartment
about that time so when she came down I was still sleeping on
the floor I didn't have no money to get no furniture or to
rent no furniture so I had to wait for the first paycheck. I
couldn't work no off duty because I was still on probation so
uh, I slept on the floor and I made out I had fortunately I
used my head. I saved all my money when I was going through
the Academy. I didn't spend no money and she made a pretty
salary so she was able to keep everything going at home and my
parents helped her and my daddy-in-law helped her. So I told
them don't worry about me, I'll make it. So I just went on
down to Miami and let them they worked out everything at home
and so she came down that summer. Just before she left I had
that was during the time when you didn't have but three months
probation. Well, we had six months probation but they counted
the time you was in the Academy as part of the probationary
period so I had the months already while I was in Panama City
because they considered me as a trainee but as a trooper
status so I had actually had almost four months on plus the
two months during the summer, so I was able to start working
off duty in Miami. And then I got an early release because I
had prior police experience and they gave me a early release
so I started working off duty and I was able to get some money
and I worked off duty and made some money and guys helped me
got on to the off duty habit.
RP: You got a raise when you went to Miami?
BH: Yeah, I got a raise. And so just before my wife left she when
she got down there for a little while we went and rented some
furniture because we had some extra income so uh we rented
some furniture for me, a bed and all that so it worked out
good and she stayed down the summer and then she left and went
back to Alabama and then she came down every time she got a
break during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
But it worked out good. It gave me a chance to spend a lot of
my time learning the Highway Patrol and getting familiar with
the Highway Patrol. I had a rather, as you know since you was
down there in Miami at the time as a sergeant. and then you
made lieutenant while and became our district lieutenant and I
had a rough time like in a month I think in six or seven weeks
I had three patrol car wrecks.
RP: You know you had them like boom boom boom. And I remember to
this day when Carmody had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel
and he was in Tallahassee, and so Gracey and I rotated as
troop commander like (UNK) and I think you had everyone (UNK)
and I remember the second, the third one that Burkett called
me personally and he said he wanted to know who you were and
why you was during this. He says why does this man keep
wrecking these cars? He wanted an explanation. Anyway, go
RP: You got the director's attention.
BH: Yeah. He knew me personally because I got a couple of notes
from him about that'very thing. I think what it was during
the training period my training officer was just one of those
individuals that he didn't believe in you driving his patrol
car and I don't think I would had the time to get
the well probably it might have went back when I was a police
officer I was a police officer in my hometown. You could park
your patrol car in the streets with that blue light on and
nobody touched it. You could leave it there for ten hours and
everybody went around it. I think that not being familiar
with the amount of traffic and not being around people that
paid attention to watching what a policeman do, and watching
what a police was taking action that I could count on (UNK)
like it was back in Alabama and didn't realize that I was in
the big city and things that you do in small towns you can't
do in big cities. And I think the first accident came when I
stopped a guy. I was working the 1:00 to 12:00 express and it
was that night and he took me off on 36th street and I never
forget it and and one of these type incidents the guy didn't
speak no English and he pulled over on a curve and so I parked
uh up on the sidewalk and halfway on the road. And I did that
many times when I was a policeman and this young girl came
through and she looked like she was going to run over me and I
tried to get in the car and she went and tried to go through
and she caught my door and bent the door on the patrol car and
that was the first one. And the second one I had went up to
Jacksonville to pick up my new Chevrolet and a trooper out of
another troop out of my troop but he was stationed in Broward
County, stopped a car on the side of the road for what reason
I don't Know because he didn't have no blue light or nothing
or equipment and I stopped. I saw him on the side of the road
with this guy stopped
and I pulled over to the shoulders right here in Palm Beach
County somewhere near the Riviera Beach exit and they had been
working on 1-95 during the time when they was working on and
there was a drop in the median.between the ground and the
(UNK) was. And I went off on there and it scared me and I
left my tire on the line and person came down through there
and hit the front of the car. And the third one I was going
to a accident and I didn't take in consideration of the
roadway and the weather and when I applied brakes, I went into
an intersection and traffic was pulling off from a red light
and I struck a car that was some bad brakes I was kinda of
scared there for a while. For one thing I thought I was going
to get terminated, you know. It kind of got scared me.
RP: I remember that there was a problem. Did you ride with
someone or did one of the supervisors ride with you? It
seemed like that's what the director wanted to be done.
BH: Well the director they had a sergeant to ride with me a couple
of times to see if I was operating the vehicle in a reckless
manner or but I just think it was bad brakes on my part. I,
during the time a city cop never got involved with company
RP: I think it's fair to say, though that a real translation from
operating as a city policeman in Monroeville and operating as
a trooper in Dade County. There's a lot more traffic.
BH: Yeah, and uh another thing is that I have seen troopers in
Alabama stop cars and they stop them in the street. They do
it to right now this day they stop them in the road and people
just go around them or you just sit and wait until he's doing
what he's going to do because you don't dare blow your horn
because if you do, you are in big trouble.
RP: But it's not that way in Miami, is it?
BH: Yeah. Down in south Florida you are talking about a different
world. But I learned and I learn from my mistakes and I think
a lot of times I look back and I think I was trying to do so
much. I was trying to do so good, trying to do so good of a
job sometime you forget and be unsafe and not think but I
finally learn how the game was played and then I started being
much more careful and I learned kind the hard way. I ended up
getting three days off without pay. I got suspended for three
days but since then I haven't had any problems. I had one
patrol car wreck but it wasn't my fault a girl ran into and
hit somebody else and knock them into me uh last year uh but
it wasn't my fault. I was at the red light stopped everybody
was stopped and this female came up drunk and hit another man
behind me and knocked him into my patrol car but they didn't
even fix the bumper. It just bent the bumper. They just
dented it in a little bit but they got (UNK).
RP: Is your wife with you now?
BH: Yeah. I lived in Miami without my wife for three years. And
she finally moved down and she taught for the Board of
Education down there in the public school and then after she
was there for about six months she got tired of living in
apartments and where we lived was a very nice at that time
(UNK) some very nice apartment complex and then when all the
(UNK) start moving and coming in from (UNK) and stuff, they
started moving out in the (UNK) area and the community started
changing. Started having a lot of problems with shooting and
drugs so she got upset. On a trooper salary, we couldn't
afford to buy a new house. Between both of our salaries we
managed to get a foreclosure well not a foreclosure but a
suitable mortgage where an American couple had they one was a
doctor and one was a banker. She was in banking and both had
been moved to L.A. and they had a nice town house, three
bedrooms, two and a half baths off the south (UNK) street U.S.
41 and a 132nd Avenue. It had just been sitting there. They
lived in it for about one year and then both of them got
transferred they rented it out for six months and some people
abused it so they redid it and just locked it up and so about
three years it sit there and nobody lived in it and they would
come down and they would use it when they would be in Miami.
and so they finally decided to sell it so we had been shopping
we had more or less been out shopping, riding and riding so we
finally found it and we took
up the payments on and we gave them so much money. It was
kind of rough and I had to work a lot of off duty to make up
the difference. They wanted a little even for the mortgage
company that had it. They wanted us to put an investment in
it before they would put it over in our name uh but uh I was
able to do it with the off duty so and it was convenient for
my wife the school that she was teaching was about fifteen
minutes away. We was living close to the new school so she
didn't have to drive that far we didn't want to go to far
North and we didn't want to go to far south but it worked
out. She's happy, she is still teaching at (UNK) and look
like this is going to be her last grading period. It's going
to be her last (UNK) because she didn't finish special degree
in Librarian. (UNK) and she will get a chance to go to a high
school and be a Librian she had a master in childhood but she
due to the school system in Dade County, it's so overcrowded
she was teaching kindergarten. 35 and 38 kids is just too
RP: Now picking back up on your career after other than your
wrecks. That's been your down part. Tell me .a little more
about your career with the Patrol because you have come a long
BH: I was assigned to district one and I work at (UNK) and then I
got the opportunity go to be a Background Investigator at the
time my Sergeant, J. B. Johnson, got promoted to the
nvoperato and they wanted to ad anDother Backa y r
operator and they wanted to add another Backcround
Investigator to the background program and he requested that I
come up and work for him. He was also my district sergeant
and so he called me in and asked me if I wanted to work for
him and I told him yes and I started working as a Background
Investigator. I enjoyed working the road down here. I like
the traffic. Some troopers don't like traffic. I look at it
like any other job. In Troop E and Dave (UNK) I trained also
uh another trooper who later went on to un he's been in Lee
County but (UNK) Tim Hines but I enjoyed that I tried not to
make the mistake that my training officer made with me I
really took my guys and I really let them got a feel of the
Highway Patrol and help them a lot. And I took time with the
family. I think a lot of the training officers don't take
time with the young (UNK) family and let them know how it is
and let them and tell them about living in the big city it's a
different from living out in the country or living in rural
area. I spent a day with each one of them uh the first day we
work together I spent a day at the apartment with the wife and
talking to them and getting them familiar with the Highway
Patrol and the amount of traffic and how to be safe and how
the reaction of the wife who was going to help her husband do
to the job better by him knowing that she was safe at home and
all. And my trainer never took the time with me. I met him
and we just went out there he never helped me with driving
never help me do pursue driving and I pushed my
guys. I made them do pursuit driving. I did not start pace
clocking until I got on my own and with my guys I started them
to pace clocking right off. I showed them how to get around
the track with the traffic (UNK) know where they are at all
the time, know the road they are on, know how to know where
they can go and get caught in situations where you can get
involved in an accident, not parking your patrol car halfway
on the shoulder of the road and halfway in the road things
that were not told to me. And I tried to make sure that they
knew that and my guys, none of them got involved in accidents
because I made sure that they played by the rules and if I
felt that was some of my faults with my patrol car wrecks
could have been avoided if I had had the proper training, told
that certain things you can't do in this amount of traffic and
but I learned the hard way and I tried to make it better for
the people that came behind me. But I enjoyed it then I went
to the Background Investigation Section and I work very hard
over there. I put in thirteen and fourteen hours sometime to
the background system to make it work. I work under both I
work under two directors I work under director James Edward
Beach and I also work under Director Burkett and I think that
Director Burkett brought the Highway Patrol a long ways. He
had bought the Highway Patrol some distance when he took over
in 1982 compared to the Highway Patrol that I came on in 1981
and 1982. I know that a lot of the younger troopers don't see
change and not only white troopers I am talking about minority
troopers. They still feel that
enough hasn't been done, especially the minority troopers
They say in certain areas but they haven't been around during
the Beach (UNK) of the Highway Patrol but Director Burkett I
think is an excellent Director. He has made a great change in
the Highway Patrol for his management. He has (UNK) lot of
new ideas for the Highway Patrol. He bought different
standards where a trooper in Dade County and a trooper in
Florida or here in Tallahassee, or Pensacola or Jacksonville
get the same kindt of disciplinary action regarding the same
offense or where when I came under Beach, you could do such in
south Florida and you would get maybe three or four days off.
You can do the same thing in Pensacola and you would probably
get a letter so Director Burkett (UNK) standarlized the
disciplinary to got by he tried to make a better work place
for all the troopers. And I can relate to one incident where
I remember when we were getting our uniforms in the Academy
when they would give us our equipment just before graduation
and take pictures I felt sorry for some of the females in our
class. We had about five or four females in there and during
that time the females wore male clothes and they gave those
girls some pants and shirts and they fit them like dresses.
And I heard one of the persons from GHQ that was in charge of
them issuing out the equipment, he told one of the girls he
said if you want to be a trooper, you will wear it. If you
want it to fit. You will make all the arrangements or
alterations on your own and get it to fit and that's the kind
of attitude that was taken and it was unbelleveable and some
of these girls the
pants they had the waisteline two of her waist in those pants
they couldn't fill out. And the shirts was like shirt
dresses. It was so bulky and big on them even the smallest
one theses girls were very smallest. So I have seen a lot of
changes since Director Burkett has made a lot of changes
especially with I notice edafter he took over, they started
ordering and right to this day women's shirts, and women's
pants and they even got women's hats for the women. The same
hats the trooper wear but it is smaller brim and everything
and lighter for the female. They even went to the two-inch
gunbelt to help the women because the three-inch was hurting
their side and he brought about a lot of changes he bought
bought the change with the (UNK) light. He changed the
lighting on the Highway Patrol he help the troopers that
wanted Mustangs uh and uh he made (UNK) he brought a lot of
changes on the highway patrol. Of course with those changes
he bought a lot of things for as work he wanted troopers to
get out and get what they were supposed to get. And I think
that's some of the biggest problems that we got now some of
the older troopers on the Highway Patrol got by doing nothing
and now they got to get out and make and work for a living and
they (UNK) I think that a lot of positive things have come out
of the Highway Patrol and that under Director Burkett's
leadership he has uh expanded the Patrol from when I came on
from twelve hundred and something. I think our class was
something like 1,254 and now we are up to fifteen hundred and
we are over fifteen hundred troopers right now
and the Highway Patrol done came a long way we are even
getting to carry PR-24's even the new bulletproof vest that
they give you the option now, the new vest to shell in front
of you you have the option now to even go and be measure for
your own vest and the department will pay for it. There are
no more of just taking what they give you. He has brought on
a lot of changes in the Patrol and a lot of changes. And he,
I think that he has done as much as he could in his power to
try to bring the Highway Patrol within the guide line with the
minority hiring to better the working conditions for all the
members of the highway patrol and to get not only minorities
but all the members of the Highway Patrol to study and try to
advance there career on the Highway Patrol and even dough he
do stress for minorities he do push for the other members the
white and (UNK) to better themselves to job opportunities
because he, as a ladder he realized that we have some very
intelligent individuals in the Highway Patrol and those
individuals need to be moved up the latter where they could
help other highway patrol and maKing the organization that it
has been over the past and even improve it more. So I tnink
the Florida Highway Patrol has been good to me I have no
complaints. I really enjoyed the time I have been on the
patrol. A lot of people talk about money but money is not
everything. You got to be happy with what you do, too. If I
had to do it over again, I would come back to the Highway
Patrol again. The only thing I regret I was not able to join
the highway patrol at a younger age. I joined the Highway
when I was like thirty-one years old going on thirty-two. I
think I turned thirty-two when 1 was in the Academy. So that
really hurt. It would have been nice if I could have started
my career at twenty-one with the Highway patrol and went up
the ladder but that's the only thing that I regret. The
Patrol has been good to me. I think that if you work hard and
with the (UNK) of working off duty you can accomplish (UNK)
the money that you don't get with the Highway Patrol in your
salary. I try to tell young troopers that they have to
realize that even though the pay is not great, if you look at
most Corporate Executives, they put in fifteen hours and
eighteen hours a day. They make that big money but they put
the hours in and in any job they might have just one job and
making a $100,00 and $200,00 a year, but you go and figure up
the number of hours they put in that job and then divide that
number of hours into that salary and then you can determine
exactly what they are making an hour and what they are making
a day. So that what you have to evaluate and to work off duty
to make ends meet is not that bad. All you are doing is
holding a second job.
RP: Well how about your future? Are you on the promotional list?
BH: Well I've been taking the promotional test every year. Last
year I really worked harder. I made 85 on the test but I
didn't a lot of people made a lot better than I did. I think
right now I was talking to maybe one, two, or
three minorities on the list right now for a promotion and I
think I am 25 on the total list so no way that I get promoted
this year but.
RP: When does the list expire?
BH: The list expires on June 30th.
RP: Yeah, that's right. They're giving the test right now aren't
BH: This year it's going to be given the second week of May (UNK).
RP: So you will be taking the test again?
BH: I haven't started studying yet because I have had other
things. I want to take off some time and study. I've been
looking at the material but....
RP: Well, what's been done to get the minorities in the Patrol, to
get the minorities interested in studying and achieving (UNK).
BH: Well, I think Director Burkett came up with some good ideas.
We got some minorities. We can go back if Trooper Alfonzo
(UNK) if he probably be up in Tallahassee somewhere right now,
he probably would be a troop commander right now.. But
unfortunately faith didn't go that way, did a bad hand against
him he was not
able to continue his career and then we had Trooper Keith Hart
that had made sergeant and he became ill and passed away. He
was a minority also and he probably would be captain right now
if he had kept himself (UNK) or at least a lieutenant. But I
think Director Burkett has tried to make, a great strive to
get minorities to take the promotional exam. A lot of people
wanted quicker than that but a lot of people fail to realize
that Director Burkett is Director of the whole highway patrol
you cannot take one group whether it's female, white, black or
hispanic under his wings and try to take them up the ladder
because then you got to worry about all of these other
individuals that's a part of the Highway Patrol, too. Some
people hold him personally responsible for some of the
problems on the Highway Patrol and I disagree with that I
think that. The responsibility as far as minority hiring and
the problems that the Patrol have are for the minorities being
in rank lieutenant or above is the responsibility that should
be laid back on the legislative back to even, Governor Rueben
Askew. I think back there in 1969, 70 or 71 or 72 when there
was minorities that was interested in getting in the police
work that went on to other agencies because the Highway patrol
didn't give them a chance that who are in rank in those
departments in Metro-Dade or Palm Beach Police Department, and
Jacksonville Police Department who are in rank even some Fire
Department have black captains and stuff that was not given
the opportunity that the legislative and the government did
not push the Highway Patrol toward the goal trying to get
those individuals in. And that's probably why we are having
the problems now because of that area uh back there. Now the
problem is now we got a lot of black troopers on the Highway
Patrol and a lot of them are not interested in being a
supervisor. It's like being a troopers, they don't want the
responsibility but (UNK) you look at the whole picture, you
got a lot of white troopers the same way. They don't want to
be troopers (UNK) you got that few that want to be supervisors
but the majority don't want nothing to do with it.
RP: Like those troopers in North Florida, they just want to work
the road and.
BH: That's right. They want to do their eight hours and forget
about. It they don't want the responsibility. But the
Director has he has made this year, well started in '88 they
started in Miami, they started a study class one hour before
one hour at the you could come one hour early and study and
you could spend one hour after the shift and study at the
station and Lieutenant Bob Miller, who is district one
lieutenant, who always do excellent on the testing give the
instructions. And this year our new policy take up you can
use your Patrol car to go to any study group as long as you
wear your uniform and study. They didn't put, I think you can
go out of your assign troop I don't mean you can go a hundred
miles but I think you can travel maybe to Broward
County to study with a study group. You know, something
reasonable. I don't think you can drive all the way to
Tallahassee, you know, a hundred miles and expect to be back
and go to work tomorrow but they made it where you could use
your patrol car to go and study. And like I said, I think
Director Burkett is doing a lot to try and get minorities to
(UNK). He's making it easy and it's not only minorities,
that's any trooper on the highway patrol can use there patrol
car as long as they wear their uniform. They can go to any
study group and study so I think its uh I may let you change
that they are pushing not only minorities but they are pushing
everybody to go and get more input in taking the exam because
we have a lot of people that are very intelligent that do not
ever take the exam and we have some people that take the exam
and pass which may not be the best qualified supervisor but
because due to the limited number of people that are taking
the exam, those people are getting promoted so.
RP: So they are winning by default?
BH: Yeah. So we get the best qualified people we do and I don't
care what anybody says. I have been to because I travel back
and forward from Alabama and I've been to Atlanta and I know
troopers over there and I, even this year, August I got a
chance to go to the South Carolina Academy and help them with
their Background Section and our program that we use here in
Florida. They implemented our wnole program they was so
impressed the way
we do background with minorities to try and get people through
the selection process. They took the whole program we had
Trooper Jerry Clenney go up there and gave them a whole class
for a week of how we do it and they even adopted our Highway
Patrol Manual Policy Manual, for African Black Investigators.
They adopted the whole program our qualifications for
applicants, they took the whole thing all they did was change
from Florida Highway Patrol to South Carolina. The whole
thing they took it right in and we gave a whole class about
fifty some troopers from all over the State of South Carolina
they also had captains the first day they had captains to come
and then they had the lieutenants. They did everything and
now down to sergeants, they had all of them there and made
them stay the whole week and listen to the class.
RP: Who else was there with you?
BH: Me and Trooper Jerry Clenny from Panama City.
RP: Oh, he's an applicant investigator?
BH: Yes, in Panama City.
RP: Does he have any rank or is he just a trooper?
BH: Just a trooper.
RP: Are you classified as a Trooper I or a Trooper II (UNK)?
BH: Trooper I. So we went up there and they were highly
impressed. I met the colonel up there and uh they have (UNK)
but a lot of there problems was that they had supervisors
doing background which supervisors had been there a long time
and they took our program and using the whole program that we
are using in Tallahassee was a coordinator. There department
is set up a little different because the Director answers to
no one but the governor. They don't have an executive
director like the Florida Highway Patrol. The director the
colonel he got two majors, one is administration and the other
is field operations and we had a good time and they treated us
well and they were highly impressed with the Highway Patrol.
RP: How were you selected to go up there?
BH: Well, what happened I had been assigned to headquarters in
Tallahassee to work in Lieutenant Dixon's office because
Lieutenant Victor Dixon had been reassigned, who' is the
applicant investigator coordinator between the troop up there
in Tallahassee. He had been reassigned to Odometer Fraud so
his work was backing up and Captain Terry McIntyre could not
keep with the work load and do his job, too, so they had to
have a trooper come up there and try to Keep up the work load
know, checking the files that come in from the field or
checking the application that come in to make sure they meet
the minimum qualification sending off for military records.
So I happened to be there one day when the major and a
lieutenant, a black lieutenant from South Carolina came down
to GHQ because they had just had a visit. After talking to
the major from South Carolina, he told me that the Federal
Government had just left the colonel's office that Monday. He
was on there case about something. He didn't give us the
whole detail but they had to go and try to get some they
wanted some answers the federal government did. So the major
who was over field operations, him and the lieutenant who is
the Chief Assistant Training Officer at the Academy, they came
down to try to see what other highway patrols were doing. And
the black lieutenant and he is also the EEO Officer for the
patrol, too. The same thing as Rosalind Guyton and in his
decision made for the Highway Patrol because he was the EEO
Officer it would have to go through his office. And so he
came down and they sat down and talked to me and we went out
and had dinner and they liked the way we did it and uh the
major said I want you to come up there and I started showing
them how we did things and telling them a little bit of the
background that where we came from to the point where we was
to this present time. So he said I.want you to send your two
best men up there and we are going to do this. This is what
we are going to do. The major told us that he had been to
Georgia. They left uh that Tuesday and 1 think they came down
to the Highway Patrol that
Thursday. They was supposed to be there Wednesday but they
went by Georgia and saw Georgia program. They had been over
and they had sent somebody else over to Alabama and he didn't
like the way Alabama did it and he felt like he was highly
impressed with the way we did it in Florida. So they adopted
our whole program just like that, no questions asked.
RP: So that was nice for them that they could find something that
would fit in what they needed.
BH: Well, if you, the South Carolina Highway Patrol is basically
like the Florida Highway Patrol and uh so in a lot of ways we
are just alike except for management structure but uh they
were very impressed. They even started during the polygraph
except they are going to use troopers because their
Investigation Section is half of black captains and who were
previously into the EEO Officer and the lieutenants and now
he's the over the Investigation Section and he have two
troopers where they can't afford to stretch that kind of
manpower. So they got two troopers out of the field that they
were going to send to polygraph school to take care of the
polygraph people because they had a couple of people that,
well, they had about three or four people that slipped through
not only white, they had couple of minorities that slip
through. But if they had a polygraph they would have caught
those individuals and they had just arrested a couple of
-troopers over there at the beach on the coast for buying
RP: In South Carolina?
BH: They had a reverse scam set up and these troopers was coming
buying stolen property but like I said the Patrol has been
good to me and I think that Director Burkett is an excellent
BP: Are you hoping he'll hear this tape?
BP: Are you hoping he'll hear this tape?
BH: No. I wouldn't have his job.
BP: I wouldn't either, buddy, I'll tell you (UNK)
BH: I wouldn't even have Major Gracey's job either.
RP: Well, I'll tell you, Director Burkett can't help me since I've
retired but I tell you something, I oon't know how he's done
it. I just don't know how he's done it.
BH: I tell what thrills me the most is to hear him talk about the
Highway Patrol, how he can get up there and tell you all that
stuff. I just don't see how he can remember all that, how he
keeps all those dates and he could get up there and talk to
people about the Highway Patrol and not look at nothing. And
I have listened to him talk and I know what he's saying is
true and he start saying numbers like this is what we got for
minorities and different things he would talk about in front
of me. And I know he is right because I know that same
information and it was amazing how he could keep all that
stuff together and I think in my career with the Patrol I have
not met any with (UNK) a lot of people like my first Sergeant
J. D. Johnson. A lot of people, a lot of people a lot of
black troopers didn't like him but to me he was (UNK) a man
like him I appreciate because he tell you something he believe
in following a straight line if said that line is straight
that line better be straight. He's not like some people that
get down there and the line starts going one way or another.
And I could deal with I like people like that and my first
lieutent, uh Lieutenant Ray Peterson, he was a good lieutenant
to me, too. I never had no problems with him. I think I
never, basically the reason I think I can get along with
management and rank because I am a type of person I like to
look at ooth sides in any given situation. Even when the
Director sends a new policy down, I try to look at his side,
how the policy was created or when the lieutenant sends a
(UNK) why he want this done I try to look why this Directive
about, why he had- to send it, you know. I don't why this
directive came, I don't look and say he's just picking on me
and negative. I try to look at the positive side. There's
got to be a reason for it he wouldn't have made this up just
to be sitting up there to make it up. It had to be something
that happened for this to come down and right now in the
Highway Patrol, we got a lot especially in South Florida. And
you've been a troop commander down here, you know what I am
talking about and you got a lot of young troopers and a lot of
young troopers don't understand. And some of them, this is
the first job they ever had. They never had a job before they
don't know nothing about work, they don't know nothing about
working on a farm or had to got out and pick peas and butter
beans chop cotton pull cotton they don't know nothing about
hard work they don't know nothing about hard work about
digging holes with pick and shovel. They don't know nothing
about that. This is the only job they ever had so they really
don't know nothing about work. So to me this job is nothing.
You get clean uniforms, all equipment, air conditioned car to
drive around in. What better working conditions can you
have? Its dangerous at times but you got to control all of
that. You can control all of that situation. You go out
there and you got your mind on your job, what you've supposed
to be doing and you go home every nignt to your family. You
won't have any problems. But like I said, I never had any
problems with any of tne management, witn my commander you
take Major Gracey, he takes a lot of heat and I tell him I
wouldn't have his job or don't see )ow h, t r a
it. I just don't see how he stands it down there. I couldn't,
it's too much,too much pressure. A lot of people don't like
him but to me I think with a troop that big and much (UNK) I
think you got to be, you got to have guidelines and be kind of
(UNK) because if you don't you will have chads. You got to
have control and you got to let people know that you are in
control because if you don't let people know that you are in
control then people start taking you weak and then they start
(UNK) from the policy and they start (UNK) for the goals that
you got set. So you got to keep an eye and hand on everything
and a lot of people don't understand but that to be a good
leader, you've got to be able to take all of that too, that's
part of being a good leader. You got to be able to take the
good with the bad and you got to be able to take all of the
harsh words that come with it when you become a leader. It's
not easy, you can't be liked by everybody. If you want to
become a leader and be liked by everybody you ain't no good
leader because everyone won't like you because somewhere down
the line you are going to do something to hurt somebody's or
offend somebody or feel they are hurt or step on somebody toes
and that's just the way it is and there's nothing that you can
do about it. But Major Gracey, he's a good leader. I don't
think, sometimes I wonder if he was to retire who would run
that troop, who would actually be able to run that troop.
RP: I think it would take two normal people.
RP: That's a good question.
BH: And my Captain,(tape ended).
RP: You were finishing up about Major Gracey in Troop E.
BH: Yeah. Major Gracey is an excellent troop commander and
Captain (UNK) is a good district commander and since they
changed the rank Captain Legett would be basically like you
were the district lieutenant in Miami before you became
captain then later made with the major he had that open door
policy. You could go in there and talk to him and uh you know
back to morale back on the Patrol and stuff like that uh I
think some of our problems with the Highway Patrol is that I
think that we got a lot of young troopers out that uh got
problems of their own. They are not able to relate to
troopers problems. You have to be, to help somebody with a
problem, you got to have your own life in order and I think
right now we don't have that. i think we got young people
leading young people and that when a lot of (UNK) come in.
RP: What some of the (UNK).
BH: I don't know, but in order to get the minorities up in the
promotional rank I reckon they would ihave to come along