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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
DIVISION OF FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
50TH ANNIVERSARY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interview with Sergeant Linda S. Perkins
Employed with FHP 6-16-81
Interviewed by Betty F. Terrell
Date Interviewed 1-9-89
BFT: What date did you-start with the FHP?
LP: I started in June 16, 1981, and I was in a trainee status.
I was working out of the Venice Highway Patrol Station while
I was in the trainee status and my training officer at the
time was Trooper Ted Nipper. On July 4, 1981, I attended
the Academy and we were the 62nd Recruit Class.
BFT: Okay, you said you started in a. trainee status. What do you
mean by that?
LP: At the time, I don't know ifwe were the first class to try
it out or the second class, they placed me at the Venice
station to learn the paperwork. I helped with the accident
reports and just helped process the paperwork to get a feel
of what the Highway Patrol was like.
BFT: What is your present rank?
LP: I'm a Sergeant.
BFT: How long have you been a Sergeant?
LP: I was promoted on October 1, 1988.
BFT: So you were a trooper approximately seven years?
LP: Yes I was.
BFT: When were you born?
LP: August 19, 1955.
BFT: Where were you born?
LP: I was born in Springdale, Ohio, which is just northeast of
BFT: When did you move to Florida?
LP: Well, I first moved to Florida when I was in the 7th grade.
My dad decided to come to Florida because he liked the
weather. He was doing construction work at the time and we
had been here on vacation since I was about 6 years old.
Our family liked it here and my dad had a good job
opportunity with Gulf Coast Construction. I stayed here for
probably about a year and because of my dad's health we
moved back to Ohio at the beginning of 8th grade. When I
live in Florida I attended Brookside Junior High in
BFT: What did you do for a living prior to becoming a trooper?
LP: I started off working part time at Publix at Gulf Gate in
Sarasota. When I went to school I was a senior at Riverview
High School and had most of my classes out of the way. I
only had to attend two classes in the mornings so most of
mornings were free so I went to Publix and applied for a
job. Because my schedule was so flexible, I was hired in
December 1973 and I continued working with Publix until June
of 1974. When I graduated from high school we moved back to
BFT: Sergeant, where did you go to elementary school?
LP: I attended Sharonville Elementary, which is in Ohio.
BFT: Give me that name again?
LP: Sharonville Elementary.
BFT: Sharonville Elementary?
BFT: You made mention of Brookside School in Sarasota. Is that
an elementary school also?
LP: That was a middle school.
BFT: A middle school? Where did you attend high school?
LP: I went to Loveland High School which is in Ohio. I attended
there until my junior year.
BFT: And that is when you moved back to Florida again?
BFT: And then where did you attend high school in Florida?
LP: I went to Riverview High School my senior year.
BFT: That's in Sarasota?
BFT: After high school did you attend college?
LP: Yes I did.
LP: I went to the University of Cincinatti which is in Ohio.
BFT: How long did you go there and what were your subjects and so
LP: Really I attended there a year and they were just general
courses just getting my main course out of the way until I
could decide what my major would be.
BFT: Did you receive a degree?
LP: No I didn't.
BFT: What were your reasons for becoming a trooper?
LP: I had worked at Publix for almost 8 years and I had gone
from being a cashier to doing a lot of office work and then
I worked stock. I was given the drug aisle and I ordered
the drug aisle and stocked the health and beauty aids. I
did a little bit of everything throughout the store. I was
then given more responsibilities with the drug aisle and
then with office work doing deposits and overseeing the
cashiers when the head cashier was not there. I wanted to
go into management and at that time Publix did not have any
women managers and when I approached my manager and told him
that I wanted to further myself by going into the management
field, he discouraged me. The manager stated that Publix
didn't have any opportunities for women in management. My
brother had become interested in the Highway Patrol but
"before that I had seen a public service announcement on TV
for the Highway Patrol. I went to the Venice Patrol station
to pick up an application. At that time in 1979 I really
wasn't encouraged to continue my pursuit of the Highway
Patrol so I dropped it for about a year. Then when my
brother became very interested in the Patrol we got the idea
that maybe him and I could go through the-Academy together.
That was about 1980, the latter part of 1980, my brother
Jeff who is now a trooper in Lakeland and I pursued the
Highway Patrol together.
BFT: Was he employed before you?
LP: No, he had to wait I guess almost 3 years because of his
eyesight. I think his eyesight was 20/60 and at the time
the Patrol had an eyesight requirement of 20/50. When they
changed the eyesight requirement to 20/70 then he fell
within the guidelines and was hired April I think it was
BFT: So your dreams of going through Patrol school together
didn't work out?
LP: Yeah it kind of bit the dust. He was real disappointed and
I felt real bad that I got to go when he was the one that
kind of ...
BFT: encouraged you..
LP: yeah, encouraged me to pursue it further and I felt bad
BFT: Tell me about the training school, the physical training and
so forth when you were in training school.
LP: When we went through the Patrol, our class, uh, we had a
nickname we were called the female class. The class before
us the 61st recruit class had three female troopers in it
and at the time there were only three women on the Highway
Patrol. When we came on the 62nd class we had 10 women out
of 32. We had a lot of training, we ran everyday and I
think we topped out about 6, 6 and a half miles that we ran
towards the end of the Academy. Also we had to box every
day and I think it was the 7th week of the recruit class I
think they finally stopped our boxing and so between running
and exercising and boxing, we had a pretty well rounded
physical training program.
BFT: After the 7th week you say they stopped boxing. Why?
LP: Because they taught us arrest technique and handcuffing and
had more classroom work.
BFT: You said there were 10 females in your recruit class? Who
were some of those?
LP: My roommate and I thought the world of was Kathleen Ridder.
She was a dispatcher in Pinellas Park and I think we still
have on Cynthia Reese and I'm not sure if she got married or
not what her married name is and we had Jerra Waller and she
has since got married and her name is Jerra Hall and I
believe she is still on and I think she is a Trooper II in
BFT: So there's not...out of that 10 there's not too many of you
LP: I think there are 3 of us left.
BFT: During training school did you entertain thoughts of
LP: Well, I think everyone that goes through the Academy...it
comes across their mind sometime during the Academy
training. The first 3 weeks I thought were the hardest.
First off being away from your family and when we went
through the Academy you didn't get to go home on the
weekends. On Saturday we usually went half of a day and
usually we ended up boxing on Saturdays. We boxed almost
everyday and on Saturdays we boxed and after we finished
boxing we ended up washing the cars of the Academy staff and
whoever brought their cars to the Academy. It was a pretty
rough 3 weeks and yes I did think about it ...about
BFT: What made you continue on?
LP: I'm not a quitter. I didn't want to have to go home and
face more or less defeat of not making it as a trooper. I
wanted to be a trooper and I felt that once I got out of the
Academy I knew that I'd work for what I got and it was
something to be proud of to be a trooper.
BFT: Can you give me your reaction to the training and if in your
opinion it is properly constructed for the needs of the
LP: When I went through the Academy I was not told what the
Academy was like. When we went up to Tampa for the oral
review board and polygraph and physical training part before
we came on the Patrol some of the applicants told us that
they had seen a film about the Highway Patrol. I told them
that I had not seen the film. They said there was boxing on
the film and they said you've got to box when you go through
the Academy. I thought they were just trying to scare me
and I said no, no way so when we got to the Academy the
first day they told us that we had to run a mile. I thought
I was really doing good I had been running everyday about a
mile and mile and a half. You know I didn't expect the
first day to run 3 miles. I thought I was going to die
along with the rest of them. The boxing was the one I think
that got me. I was, you know, I didn't expect to have to
put on gloves and of course I never fought with boxing
gloves in my life. You know that really surprised me. I
feel when all recruits go through that type of -training they
wonder why we have to go through such strict physical
discipline and we just think that the Academy staff was
being sadistic in a lot of ways. But once I got out of the
Academy and came into contact with the public I felt that
the training was a benefit. To go through that type of
training I think that it puts backbone into you and teaches
you self discipline. I think a lot of the people that go
through the Academy are not used to any type of discipline
like being told when to go to bed, when to eat or any type
of physical exercise. As far as the exercise and the
physical training part, I feel that it was good. As far as
the boxing I am glad that they did away with it. I feel
that in the replacement of the boxing I am glad they gave us
more officer survival techniques and more arrest techniques
which is a big benefit when you get out on the road and try
to arrest some violators.
BFT: Did you apply for any other police occupation prior to
becoming a trooper?
LP: No I didn't.
BFT: Where does the most outstanding memory during your career on
LP: One of the things I remember most when I first came on the
Highway Patrol, I was sent back through the Academy for a
refresher school. I had only been on for a little over a
year. I still guess I still was scared to death of the
other troopers and of course supervisors. I had gone
through the Refresher School and we were standing outside
one of the Academy buildings and there was 49 male troopers
and I was the only female trooper. I guess I kind of felt
out of place and Colonel Burkett walked up to us and was
talking with the troopers and I was standing beside him and
listening to what was being said. I didn't say too much
because I was still a rookie really compared to the other
troopers and Colonel Burkett turned to me and told me if I
was going to be on the Highway Patrol for any length of time
I would have to learn to speak up and I guess I will always
BFT: You have been assigned as a recruiter in the past. Give me
your thoughts on that assignment.
LP: I liked being the recruiter and given the opportunity to be
the recruiter for Troop F. I met a lot of people during the
time I was the recruiter, I made a lot of good contacts and
I learned more about the Patrol. I learned more about
people in general. I tried to help applicants come on to
the Patrol and I took pride in getting the applicants to
become troopers. I was disappointed when some of them
dropped out of the Academy because I thought they had it in
them to become troopers. I think the recruiting program is
good. I wasn't much of a speaker at the time I went into
the recruiting program. I was told that all along and I was
surprised when they chose me to become the recruiter. When
you become the recruiter you have to go out to the high
schools and talk with the teachers of the school and have to
give programs and of course you have to be able to talk with
the applicants. I would say that from being a recruiter I
learned to talk with people a lot better.
BFT: You have also attended Girls State as a representative of
FHP. What impressed you about this assignment?
LP: I like Girls State because you meet 320 girls from all over
the State. When they first gave me the assignment I thought
man what have I gotten myself into. I couldn't believe it.
The first day of Girls State and here came 320 girls
storming off the buses and I didn't know anybody. You had I
think 30-35 counsellors along with the girls so you are
talking about 370 people you were put with for almost 2
weeks that you didn't know. It is really interesting to be
with a group of girls like that because of all of their
different ideas and backgrounds. It just gives you insight
to the younger generation. When you are there in uniform
the first few days they kind of shy away from you. I guess
they are a little bit apprehensive of you, they're shy and
then later on during the 2 week program they kind of loosen
up around you. The girls talk with you and want to know
what its like being a female on the Highway Patrol and they
ask about your experiences. Out of the 320 you usually get
I'd say maybe 10-15 are really interested in law enforcement
either as being troopers or going into different areas of
law enforcement. It is just real interesting to listen of
their future plans. After I attended Girls State the first
year I gave a program in Fort Myers. It was a career day at
Fort Myers High School and I had three girls that were at
Girls State with me. They were so happy to see me they were
just bubbling over and laughing and it was really good. I
feel that out of all those girls that I came in contact I
feel and I hope I left a good impression on them about the
BFT: How many years did you serve as a counsellor?
LP: I have done it for 3 years.
BFT: Three years. Out of those 3 years to your knowledge has any
of those girls become a trooper?
LP: Well its hard to keep up with them because most of them were
juniors. Within the three years they would just be about 19
or 20 years old and I have lost contact with them. It is
kind of hard to track down if the girls really did follow
through with their plans that they initially told me about.
BFT: Apparently you made a good impression at Girls State because
if I recall last year 1988 where a letter came through from
one of the Girls State representatives requesting that you
go to Girls State last year to be a counsellor again. Were
you aware of that letter?
LP: Yes, they gave me a copy of the letter and Colonel Burkett
sent me a copy.
BFT: Do you feel that -any outstanding changes have taken place
within FHP during your time with the Patrol?
LP: Attitude of women on the Highway Patrol has changed greatly
I think with Colonel Burkett being the Director he has made
a lot of good changes as far as trying to get us new
equipment, getting minorities and women on the Highway
Patrol, going for promotions just like I was offered the
promotion for Sergeant, trying to get us a better radio
system, giving us an option of patrol cars now which is
unheard of in a lot of departments throughout the United
States, giving us an option on the handgun we carry now
between a .357 magnum and 9mm, sending us to schools. I
went to a IPTM Management School in October of 1988 and I
talked to the Director of IPTM and he informed me that since
Colonel Burkett has been the Director that he was very
pleased because Director Burkett is all for education and he
allows the troopers to attend many schools that IPTM puts
BFT: If there were changes that you could make other than salary
of course, what would they be?
LP: Some of the changes that I think I would like to make or
suggest would be which I don't know how possible it would be
is to try to more evenly distribute to troopers throughout
the State. I know that the Colonel has agreed to keep 250
troopers in Miami but try to distribute the troopers that
are over the 250 to areas where they are needed the most. I
think for any rank they should go before an oral review
board before they are promoted. Also, as far as besides
salary, I won't mention our pay scale. I just wish the
differential pay would be distributed a little bit
differently to areas throughout the State. I think that is
a sore subject with a lot of troopers. I think that is one
of the biggest gripes that you hear from the troopers out on
the road is they are not getting the differential pay and of
course being overworked. Some of the departments, sheriff
departments, don't assist in working accidents and that
really puts a strain on the troopers. The training at the
Academy I understand is going under a change right now. The
physical fitness part I think that maybe if the Department
decided to go with an aerobics program to try to get
troopers into shape instead of the running that they used to
do. I think that would be a benefit. Also, during their
training I would like to see more officer survival
stressed. When I went through we didn't have officer
survival and when I went to refresher school I got to go
through it and it really surprised me how someone could take
my gun away from me so quickly and just be left there to I
guess be shot. I wished they would stress that more. Also,
I think that they should teach more handcuffing procedures,
take down techniques. I know that they are devoting a lot
of hours to that but I don't think you can teach that enough
because when you get out on the road and you are really
faced with situations like that you really need all the
training you can get. I wish we could get more training
with PR24. I had to use it on one occasion and I wasn't
that comfortable with using it. I wish we could expand the
training in that area. I think the Department gives us a
lot of good training. I think they give us a lot of good
opportunities to go through the Academy for refresher
schools and to local vo-techs and I am not dissatisfied with
any of the Department's procedures or policies.
BFT: How do you feel about your career with the Patrol at this
point and time?
LP: Well, being that I just made Sergeant I have got so much to
learn and it is hard to say what is going to happen in a
year from now. At this point I have only been a Sergeant
for 3 months and I have to learn more on how to deal with
troopers, learn the paperwork, and be comfortable with my
job as a Sergeant. Eventually, I would like to become a
Lieutenant with the Highway Patrol. I don't know if it is
going to be within the next two years or whatever but I
would like to progress on the Highway Patrol and one of my
main things I would like to be able to do one day is to
represent the Highway Patrol at the FBI Academy. That is
one my goals that I would like to do.
BFT: Going back to the time when you made application for
trooper, did you have any problems?
LP: Well, you have to look back to how it was back in 1980. You
have to remember that in 1979 it was unheard of for a female
to be on the Highway Patrol or even be considered. It was
rough applying and going through the steps and coming on and
going through the Academy. Being out of the Academy I think
the first year was the hardest. I thought many times about
quitting the Patrol but I'm sure a lot of troopers do. I
had a lot of resistance from the male troopers. They really
didn't like the change that was being made on the Patrol.
It was a good ole boy image and everybody thought the
troopers should be 6'2" and 200 and some pounds. Many felt
you had to be a country boy to become a trooper so you met
some resistance then. Of course some of the trooper's wives
wouldn't have anything to do with me. They felt I was a
threat to their marriage and that I was here to take their
husband away from them or to have an affair or something. I
had some problems in that area with people out on the road,
I found that men accepted me more when I stopped them and
the females I had lots of problems the first year with
women. They just gave me a real hard time.
BFT: Have you had very many scuffles with violators during your
LP: I've had a few.
BFT: Do you want to talk about it. I mean were they kind of
LP: Well, the one I remember, uh, two of them I felt I was lucky
I wasn't hurt more seriously than I was. I had stopped a
drunk, I was dispatched to an accident on Siesta Key which
is in Sarasota, I was on Midnight Pass Road working an
accident and I was going to arrest the driver of one of the
cars for DUI. She was just a little thing about 5'2" and
she didn't give me any problems. I handcuffed her and
started leading her back to the Patrol car in the area where
the accident was and it was real dark. There was a bar
across the street I think it was a 5:00 club and I was
walking back to the Patrol car when I was jumped from behind
and then I was grabbed and a scuffle ensued. Then a deputy
arrived and helped me. I went running toward the beach area
and the deputy grabbed one side of the man and he was about
6'2" probably about 220 pounds and I grabbed the other side
and the guy just hit me up side the head and knocked me up
against a cement wall. That got me to thinking how easy it
was to get hurt. For probably 2 to 3 months after that I
received threats that I was going to be killed and we got
all kinds of calls trying to get me back out on the Siesta
Key area and I just felt that I was really lucky at that
BFT: Do you find that being a female trooper that your resistance
comes more from the male or the female?
LP: I honestly think that the women are harder on the female
troopers than the men.
BFT: Why, why do you suppose that is?
LP: Men are more respectful of women. The older guys, put wowen
on a pedestal. I really don't have that much trouble with
BFT: Are you sorry that you pursued the Patrol?
LP: No because I've got a lot of opportunities since I've been
on the Patrol that I would've never gotten. I've got to go
a Governor's inuaguration which I thought was an honor and
really enjoyed it. I got to go to the Pope detail in Miami
and got to meet the President and the Pope and meet a lot of
other troopers. I really enjoyed that and just as you said
before going to Girls State and meeting other girls and the
counsellors. The Patrol has given me a lot of opportunities
and I really appreciate the opportunities and I wouldn't
trade it for the world.
BFT: Sergeant is there any incident while you were in training
that sticks out in your mind?
LP: When we were going through the Academy as I stated before we
had boxing and all of us dreaded it male and female alike.
No one liked to get in the ring and put on their gloves and
have to hit their roommate and their fellow recruits. I
guess everyone dreaded it and so for the first time when we
went in the ring I had to box Kathleen Ridder and she was my
roommate. Before we got up to box we were next in line and
she said to me whatever you do don't hit me in the nose.
She kept saying don't hurt me so I wasn't about to hit her
in the nose or try to hurt her. I was just going to try to
get by like the rest of them. We got in the ring and it was
Jimmy Johns I don't know if he was a Sergeant or a Corporal
at the time he was a counsellor and boxing instructor. When
we got into the ring next thing I knew Kathleen punched me
in the nose and laid me out on the mat and I thought to
myself man never trust your roommate.
BFT: What did you do when you were able to get up off the mat.
Did you get her nose?
LP: No, they went ahead and called it off. They thought I took
BFT: When you got out of the Academy was there an incident you
LP: When I got out of the Academy we still had the policy that
we had to wear our hats and of course we had a strict hair
guideline. My hair was pretty short and once you put a hat
on it it looked like I didn't have much hair at all. I
remember I stopped a car on Macintosh Road in Sarasota and
when I approached the car, I saw a women driver unbuttoning
her blouse. I thought to myself that she thinks I am a
guy. I walked up to the car and I asked her for her driver
license and I thought she was going to die and she started
buttoning up her blouse real quick.
BFT: After you were promoted to Sergeant where is your
assignment? Where are you stationed?
LP: I am stationed out of Fort Myers and I am a supervisor over
the troopers of Hendry and Glades County.
BFT: How many troopers do you have under your supervision?
LP: We have seven troopers and we have an opening for an eighth
BFT: This concludes my interview with Sergeant Linda Perkins.
Sergeant I appreciate you taking the time and giving me this
interview today and I am sure that it will be beneficial to
the 50th Anniversary of the Highway Patrol and the oral