Interview with Quenton O. Whittle January 5 1989

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Interview with Quenton O. Whittle January 5 1989
Whittle, Quenton O. ( Interviewee )
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Subjects / Keywords:
Florida Highway Patrol Oral History Collection ( local )
Traffic police -- Florida
Police -- Florida
Peace officers -- Florida
Roads -- Florida


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'Florida Highway Patrol' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Interview with Sheriff Quentin O. Whittle

Employed with FHP December, 1956 1982

Interviewed by Jim Roddenberry

Date interviewed January 5, 1989

JR: I'm Jim Roddenberry, I'm in the Florida Highway Patrol

Headquarters, its located in the Neil Kirkman Building,

Tallahassee, Florida. Today's date is January 5th, 1989,

and its Thursday and its a beautiful day. I have the

pleasure this morning of conducting an oral interview of a

former retired trooper, former sheriff, Quinton Whittle.

The purpose of this interview is for the Patrol's oral

history project in conjunction with the Patrol's

observance of its 50th year anniversary this year and also

in conjunction with the University of Florida Oral History

Program. We all know you as Sheriff, for the purpose of

this interview may I refer to you as Sheriff?

QW: Sure, Jim.

JR: Very good. Well, Sheriff let me just say on behalf of

Director Burkett and the staff, how much we appreciate you

taking the time to come over to Tallahassee to participate

in this interview, we felt like that you with your

background of the patrol and of course your ten year

sheriff in Taylor County could certainly contribute to

this oral history project and again on behalf of all these

people I want to just say thank you again for coming and



JR: participating in it. First Sheriff I think that let's

start off the interview by going into some of your family

background, what is your full name?

QW: Quinton Owen Whittle.

JR: You want to spell that to real sure we get that correct.

QW: Q-u-e-n-t-i-n, O-w-e-n Whittle, just like you whittle on a

stick Jim, W-h-i-t-t-l-e.

JR: Well I was spelling Quentin several ways, but you got

that, alright and you were born when?

QW: I was born on March 2, 1932, in Moultrie, Georgia.

JR: And you moved to Florida, when?

QW: We moved to Florida during the depression years, 1936, I

was a small child.

JR: What part of the state?


QW: We moved to Polk County, central, south Florida and we

left there during World War II, about 1943 and moved to a

farm in Gadsden County, Havana, Florida.

JR: You have brothers and sisters?

QW: Yes, I have one brother and two sisters, I'm the baby of

the family, the youngest.

JR: And your dad, where was he from?

QW: My dad was originally from Alabama and uh, my mother was

from Georgia, she was a Carter, I was talking to your

secretary about the similiarity in the names.

JR: Any relation?

QW: No, no relation, I don't believe.

JR: And you lived in Havana how long?

QW: We lived, I lived in Havana from 1943 til I graduated from

high school in 1950.


JR: You graduated from Havana High School?

QW: Havana High School.

JR: Okay, now what did you do after you graduated from high


QW: I went into construction work, electrical work, uh, I

started out with a line crew, as a lineman, I worked three

years, uh, advanced to apprentice lineman, climbing poles

with subcontractor, South Power & Light. Worked over most

areas of the state, Cape Canaveral, Miami, Naples, around

and then left, I was single, and wanted to travel so I

went to Washington, D.C. and went to work in Washington as

an electrician for a short period of time until I got my

draft notice during the Korean War for my physical. I

returned to Florida and enlisted in the Navy, in 1952.

JR: And how long were you in the Navy?

QW: I was in the Navy four years.

JR: Did you go overseas or tell us just a little bit about



QW: Well, yes, I of course having been in construction work, I

got into, went into the CB's in the Navy, which is the

construction outfit of the Navy. Uh, I went overseas out

of the 48 months I was in the Navy, I spent 42 months

overseas, most of my time on Guam and then the remainder

of the time in the Phillipines.

JR: And you were discharged?

QW: I was discharged in May of 1956.

JR: And you returned to?

QW: To Havana, went to work with R.E.A. a few months, and made

application for the Highway Patrol during that time and

was accepted and uh, attended the Florida Highway Patrol

Academy and I started in I believe it was October of 56.

JR: Did you have a family, yourself at that time?

QW: No, I was not married, I was single living at home.

JR: Where did you go to Patrol school?


QW: In Tallahassee.

JR: Where was the school located?

QW: It was located out at the Old Del Mabry Field, uh, the old

part of the FSU college I believe it was called back then,

Del Mabry.

JR: Your familiar with the Academy as it exists today, is

there any difference in the facilities today from what it

was when you went to school?

QW: Quite a bit, quite a bit, uh, was old army barracks, old

military barracks, which I was familiar with cause I had

stayed at some having just gotten out of the service. Uh,

I don't recall having any heat or air condition, probably

some heat but I remember the barracks very well.

JR: Well Sheriff I know after serving in the Navy and then

coming back and doing a little work and doing electrical

business, something somewhere down the line, gave you the

idea or cause you to have a desire to go into the law

enforcement and I think the Patrol was lucky that you

chose the Highway Patrol, but my questions really what

prompted you or what caused you to want to get into the


JR: Highway Patrol, and you did this in 1956, at some point

prior to this you had made that decision and I would like

to hear about it.

QW: Okay, as most probably everybody that came on the Patrol

they had somebody that impressed them on the Patrol, when

I got back from the service, mine really, dealt around one

instance, I was dating, would you believe it a nurse that

worked over at Chattahoochee and I was coming home late

one night driving my pick-up truck and just out of Quincy

between Quincy and Havana, probably about 1:30 or 2:00 in

the morning, my lights all of a sudden went out on the

pick-up truck and I hit my brakes and squalled my tires

and skidded over in the ditch and uh, low and behold it

was in front of old Sergeant Strong's house and he got out

of bed and come out to see, you know, to help me and he

carried me home, drove me home, all the way home to my

farm, and he was very nice and courteous to me, very

helpful and that impressed me and uh, I then began to talk

with him at that time, and a few weeks later about making

application for the Highway Patrol, and then I had a

friend that was in the Academy at that time, uh, Joe

Peavy, who was from Havana and he approached me about

coming on the Patrol, so the two of them together inspired

me to put my application in for the Patrol and luckily I

was accepted shortly thereafter.


JR: Who was Sergeant Strong?

QW: Sergeant Strong was the, to me, the Granddaddy of the

Patrol, we all called him in Gadsden County. I had known

him before I went into the service, at that time I think

he was the only trooper in Gadsden County, covered it for

years, and everybody loved him to death, uh, he spent most

of his career I understand in the Patrol, in Gadsden

County and was very well liked, very fine old man and it,

he was just my ideal of what a trooper should be and he

impressed me so much that, that's the reason, he alone was

the reason I decided to try to be an officer instead of an


JR: That's great, you made application in early 1956, during

that time. Who was the director of the Patrol when you

made application?

QW: Colonel Kirkman.

JR: And where was the Patrol Headquarters located?

QW: The Patrol Headquarters was located I believe they called

it the old Martin Building, uh, downtown Tallahassee, in

the cellar part I believe, and just across the street I


QW: don't recall the name of the streets, the entire driver

licenses division covered about two or three rooms down in

the bottom floor, had one uniformed person in charge, T

believe at that time he was a corporal, I believe it was

Corporal Graham and he had about six or seven people

employed under him, they handled the entire driver

licenses division of the state of Florida.

JR: Tony Graham?

QW: I believe it was Tony Graham.

JR: Did you meet Colonel Kirkman prior to being accepted for

the Patrol, did you...

QW: No, no I did not.

JR: Do you recall when you actually put your application in,

about the month and when you were accepted?

QW: I became aware that the Patrol were beginning to hire they

were making a big push to hire quite a few troopers, uh, I

would say probably I put my application in probably around

July, not recalling the exact date.


JR: How did you feel when you got the acceptance letter?

QW: I felt very good, course Sergeant Strong run the

investigation and low and behold uh, being single and all,

I received a speeding warning ticket during that time and

he come out and questioned about that, I thought that had

dashed my hopes of becoming a trooper, but uh, he checked

with the officer that gave it to me and I'm sure as I had

run several investigations later on people that made

application, they were more concerned with my attitude

towards the officer and rightly so than whether or not I

was guilty of speeding or not but I had a good feeling

about the Patrol, I was very impressed with it, very happy

to have been accepted.

JR: You went into Patrol school in October, 1956, tell me

something about the class itself, was it unique, perhaps

at that time it was not unique to you but today, how was

it unique?

QW: Uh, well it was unique cause I believe it was the largest

class that ever attended or graduated on the Patrol, I

think we started somewhere around 100, I'm not sure, and

graduated I believe around 84 or 85, the class was divided


QW: into two sections, that split approximately 50/50, and so

had two schools really going at the same time, uh,

needless to say you know that was in the, what we refer to

now as the old days where really it was pretty tough, we

had some good instructors, but they bore down pretty hard

on you, I'm sure you couldn't get away with the stuff then

that you could now in the Academy and we of course had to

spend the nights there, two or three weeks before we could

even get out on, I believe it was Saturday night we had to

be in by 11:00, uh, and during that time I was able to

return to Havana a time or two and met with Trooper Peavy

who was then on the Patrol, he was home on weekends, a lot

of people got disheartened in the Patrol school back then

and some of them left as I recall, some of them left at

night, just take their clothes and disappear into the

night and leave no word, but I made up my mind it was alot

better than climbing poles and I loved law enforcement I

believe I was directed that way and I made up my mind I

was going to survive and I did.

JR: Who was the commandant of the Patrol school at that time?

QW: Uh, I believe Captain J. Hall was, we all remember Captain

Hall, I do, a very competent man, very good, couldn't find


QW: a better man to be commandant of the Patrol Acaademy,

because it was, back then it was having just come from

military I was very much familiar with the military and it

was run upon military standards which I loved and liked.

JR: The class was eight weeks, I think we talked about that

earlier. When did you graduate from Patrol school?

QW: I graduated December the 7th, 1956.

JR: What, do you recall some of the subject matter that you

were taught during the class or during, as a part of the

curriculum of the school?

QW: Well Jim its been a long time but of course we taught law,

uh, I'm trying to recall some of it, course first aid and

those basic things, uh but other than that its kind of

vague to me.

JR: Do you recall driving a patrol car or that part of it,

what was, describe if you can recall with your feelings

the first time you got under the wheel of a marked patrol

car and the feeling you had even though you were still in

your khakis and in a patrol class, did it give you any

special feeling?


QW: Oh yeah, I recall that very well, that was kind of like

the height of my ambition I thought I was already a

seasoned trooper, uh, felt real good and had a good

feeling about that, uh, as you can well recall, uh, high,

I was very, very happy.

JR: Okay you graduated on December the 7th, 1956, and were you

given any time off after that time before you were to

report and where did you report to?

QW: We were given a week, a week off and I was to report here,

in Tallahassee, I was to be stationed in Tallahassee as my

first duty station, uh, of course, then I rode as a rookie

trooper I rode a short period of time with some troopers

here in Tallahassee as I recall they only had seven

stationed in the entire Leon County at that time, uh, and

one of my seasoned troopers that helped break me in was

Bobby Burkett, who was stationed here as a trooper at that

time, but I rode approximately two weeks and then I was

released, given my first patrol car and uh, I then worked

approximately four or five days here and then, my first

really duty station I was sent to Taylor County, I was

broke in here in Leon County as a rookie trooper but my

first duty station was in Taylor County which I reported

down there January 1, 1957.


JR: Now you've mentioned Colonel Burkett, Colonel Burkett

currently serves in the capacity as Director on the

Florida Highway Patrol, that's just great. Who was the

troop commander that you reported to?

QW: At that time of course the Troop Commander were

lieutenants, he's A.D. Colson.

JR: And you were here for, as a break in for...

QW: Approximately three weeks.

JR: And then you were sent to Taylor County.

QW: Taylor County yeh.

JR: And you were still a single trooper?

QW: Well no, now Jim, the time that, during the time I was

breaking in, uh, I got married, we got married December

the 30th, the day just before I was to go to Taylor County

my wife working here in Tallahassee for the state and I

had met her back during the time I was in the service one

time when I come home on leave and I dated her during the

time that I shortly before I came on the patrol and we got


QW: married December 30th, 1956.

JR: And what's your wife's name, her maiden name?

QW: Her name is Thais Hall, she's from Blountstown, Florida.

JR: That's great, and uh, then you were assigned to Taylor

County in January, January 1, 1957, and who, the station

in Taylor County in 1957 is in its present location?

QW: No, we had no patrol station in Taylor County. The

station was built there in 1962, uh, we operated in Taylor

County without a patrol station we worked off the station

here in Tallahassee being in the same troop, Troop H at

that time, uh, it was unique in Taylor County, we had no

hospital consequently we had no communication to amount to

anything, I worked many a shift in Taylor County with no

radio contact, with nobody but maybe the trooper you was

working with if you happen to have one working with you on

the same shift, at that time as I recall we had five

troopers in Taylor County and we had less than 300

troopers on the entire Highway Patrol, I think we had 297,

my first ID number was 297 and I finished the end of my

class with a 'W' I think that, and we still have just five

troopers in Taylor County by the way.


JR: Since 1957 that's interesting.

QW: Yes it is, but at that time, of course there was no

interstate systems and in the entire Troop H the only four

lane highway at all in this entire troop we had seven

miles of four lane north of Perry, no interstate system

north and south, and it being the hub of four main

highways most of our traffic from the western, midwestern

and north United States funneled through Taylor County and

we stayed very busy.

JR: Was there a station in Madison?

QW: No, there was no station, the only station going south was

of course the station in Cross City, Dixie County,

approximately 45 miles south of Perry so we were between

Tallahassee and Cross City with very poor radio systems,

with no communication to amount to anything, no local

station to work out of so consequently when we would pull

our shifts, quite often we would be on call at night, uh,

the local telephone operator, who we had, you had to at

the time the telephone system was that you picked up the

telephone and an operator would answer you, so the local

telephone operator was actually our dispatcher, uh, of

course someone was to call in an accident she would of


QW: course take it and she would know what trooper was on call

and then she would dial the trooper or get the trooper out

to work the accident, so we worked very closely as you can

see with the telephone company, they were our dispatcher.

JR: You had how many days off a week to begin with?

QW: Uh, one day a week off, we were scheduled, uh, course each

troop maybe was different but I recall very distinctly

that we worked six days a week, I did this for ten years,

we worked twelve hours a day on all holidays and weekends

and we never had a weekend off or holiday, I was on ten

years before I ever had a weekend or holiday off, ten

years, and I was in my twelfth year before I had a

Christmas day off with my family, we, I recall that we

worked, the first five years course every trooper kept up

with his own records, the first five years I average 263

hours a month, consequently my pay being just a little bit

over a dollar an hour for my labor, but we enjoyed it.

JR: Do you recall what your starting salary was as a trooper?

QW: It was $275.00 a month starting salary.


JR: There's something very important and we kind of got ten

years ahead then just for a moment, you have children?

QW: Yes I do.

JR: Well let's talk about your children just for a moment, I

know your very proud of them, rightly so and uh, just as

they're very proud of you, tell me about your children and

when were they born?

QW: Okay, uh, my oldest child, Mark Whittle, was born 1958,

uh, my second, my daughter was born in 1960, and my

youngest, my daughter named Donna, and my youngest Ronald

Whittle was born in 1965.

JR: All right, your son, your oldest son, now where is he


QW: My oldest son is a lieutenant in the Navy, he is, he's a

graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis and he is a

fighter pilot at this time, flying the F18 Hornet,

stationed in California.

JR: And he went through the academy....


QW: He got a congressional (UKN), uh, attended the Naval

Academy, I'm very proud of that, uh, my daughter is a

registered nurse, she has just recently got married in

fact last week and she resides in Ashville, North Carolina

and my youngest son got a congressional appointment to the

Air Force Academy and he's at the present time in flight

training in Del Rio, Texas, to be hopefully also a jet

flyer pilot.

JR: That's something indeed you can be proud of...

QW: I'm very proud of my family.

JR: Alright, let's go on back, let's get you back in Taylor

County now when you were a trooper and you reported there

in 1957, there was no patrol station and there were five

troopers stationed in Taylor County at that time, when was

the station built?

QW: The station was built in 1962, as I recall.

JR: And did the Patrol assign a supervisor to the station?

QW: Yes well we had a supervisor at that time, who went to

Taylor County the same day I did up until that time they


QW: had no corporal, it was Corporal Gilbert, he had just made

corporal having been stationed in Chattahoochee and they,

at that time they had no supervisor in Taylor County, he

was the first supervisor as a corporal, but with no

station to work out of, we worked out of our car and our

home, naturally...

JR: His full name was...

QW: Olin J. Gilbert, and he was my supervisor uh for many

years, when they built the station, they completed it I

believe in 62, he was promoted to sergeant and was there

for a few years later, then later transferred, made

lieutenant and transferred to west Florida.

JR: How many counties came under the Perry station during that


QW: Three counties, Jefferson, Madison, and then Taylor

County, up until they later built a patrol station in

Madison County, we had three counties.

JR: Do you recall how many troopers was in Jefferson, Madison,



QW: I believe they were two troopers in Jefferson County and

two in Madison County at the time and five in Taylor


JR: Was the station on, in 1962 when it was built and

completed was it on a 24 hour radio service or what was

the status?

QW: Yeh, it was, but we didn't have the dispatchers to man it

24 hours so troopers themselves would volunteer to man,

especially on the midnight shift, I worked it a many a

night, I would pull say my regular shift during the day

time and then stay at the patrol station at night uh, to

take accident calls, uh, if we were to have an accident,

if we did, I would close the station down and attempt to

work off the Tallahassee station, go investigate the

accident, come back re-open the station and this was all

voluntary, we did this for many months until we could get

a couple of dispatchers so that we could man it around the


JR: What was the make of the first patrol car that was

assigned to you?


QW: Uh, the first one I got of course was, when I reported to

Taylor County, it was a 1955 Ford, I recall it had 92,000

miles on it, uh, it had a heater, that's all it had in it,

it was no automatic transmission, no air conditioner, no

seat belts, none of the stuff that we, no radio, but we

had a heater and that was it, when I later got rid of the

car, it had well over a 100,000 miles on it, but I recall

very well, it was a fine patrol car too, it was very fast,

with being a young trooper and stationed in Taylor County

you needed a fast patrol car.

JR: During those times it didn't matter really too much as

long as it a marked patrol car and you were part....

QW: That's true, absolutely, course back then we were very

proud of them, kept them washed and polished every day,

uh, very neat and clean, we had no extra equipment at all

on them and uh, little ole light sitting on top like we

used to call tear drop light, very weak, siren was very

loud, but we were very proud of them.

JR: How many accidents did you average working say in a month

during those years, do you recall?


QW: No I don't, but Jim, in Taylor County doing the traffic we

had, then like I said most of our tourist and all funneled

through Taylor County, we worked alot of fatalities, alot

of accidents, especially semi type accidents where the

entire, we had no four lane, all two lane roads except the

little seven mile stretch and the county being as large as

it is, we had a lot of semi accidents where the road would

be actually blocked for hours at a time, created one heck

of a traffic problem, but uh, we worked alot, I worked

alot of fatalities during my time, my career in Taylor

County, especially until they begun to four lane and all

the roads, and then opened of course the interstate

system, Interstate 75, which took a lot of the traffic off

of 19, 98, 27, 221 which funnels through Taylor County.

JR: You had indicated earlier that there was no hospital in

Perry, I guess the people that were injured or what have

you were transported to Tallahassee...

QW: Either Tallahassee or Gainesville, either one, we, of

course the funeral home, there was no ambulance, the

funeral home course come to the scene, in a hearse, picked

up your injured people, uh, very outdated back then but it

was the best we had, and of course we had a lot of people


QW: lost due to the no MT's that we have today and all and of

course between the accident scene and they could get to a

hospital that otherwise would have survived if we had the

modern conveniences, type of ambulance service that we

have today.

JR: Earlier in your career you had the, you were chosen as,

for an award that was at the time very coveted, as a

matter of fact, you were the first one for this award and

I think that this is something that well worth noting as

far as your career is concerned and you know what I have

reference to, Sheriff you tell us about what this award

was, and what it represented and what were the

circumstances that brought this up?

QW: Jim, in 1964 the Florida Petroleum Council and the State

of Florida, come up with that idea of a trooper of the

year award for the entire state of Florida, this was an

annual award to be given to one trooper a year, uh, for

some type of outstanding service in the state of Florida

to be selected by the Patrol, itself, uh, at that time,

the first year I believe the troop commanders met in

Tallahassee, reviewed the applicants for the trooper of

the year award, and selected one, sponsored by the Florida

Petroleum Council. The first one being given out, of


QW: course in 1965 for an act Dundy, preceding year in 64 and

I was very fortunate and lucky enough to have been

selected as the first trooper of the year in 1965 for an

act of heroism that happened in Taylor County in June of


JR: Tell us what this act consisted of?

QW: Uh, of course we've gone through how rural Taylor County

was, we did have a patrol station there then, but quite

often I was on would be the only trooper in the entire

county and this being the case this particular day,

earlier that day, June the 19th, 1964, uh, Panama City,

the Western Union in Panama City was robbed and the female

attendant up there, who was a mother of three children as

I recall, was taken hostage, uh, two subjects who later

were determined to be escapees from south Florida,

kidnapped her, course robbed her and the business, and

taken her to a wooded area north of Panama City, where

they criminally assaulted her, tied her to a tree and left

her, uh, she was able to get loose a short time later,

course make it out to a highway and spread the alarm. Of

course an all points bulletin was put out for these

subjects, they had boasted to her and she had of course

seen the weapons that they had, one being a Thompson


QW: Submachine gun and another one a 45 automatic pistol and

they did boast to her several times that they did not

intend to be taken alive. Consequently everybody in north

Florida and south Georgia and south Alabama got the word

and we were all looking for them, at the same time of

course the Patrol being dangerous felons that we assumed

that they were, and they claimed they were and bragged

that they were, told us to seek not to try to apprehend

them yourself, that works well in a county where you got a

lot of officers working, but if you the only officer in

the county there's nothing left to do but uh, which I had

done many times never had any back-up, but anyhow late

that night I was patroling south of Perry being the only

officer in the county I surmised that US 98 left, come

from Panama City into Taylor County, course there's other

roads to the north but if they possibly take 98 into

Taylor County they would probably go south, so I got in

the south end of the county cause all roads would funnel

south, hopefully if they come that way I could spot them,

approximately about, I was about 20 miles south of Perry

that night patroling south, uh, and low and behold about

that time they thought that they had spotted right here in

Tallahassee on the Parkway and so I was riding along

listening to the Tallahassee station getting the officer's

who was in the city some back-up, but uh, two subjects


QW: with the identical same type car, which was a unique type

car, there's very few of them made it was a Lincoln

convertible, two subjects fitting the description were

changing a tire on the Parkway so we knew, I was riding

along knowing in just any minute they would either be some

gunfire and apprehension, very interested in listening to

my radio and uh, of course Tallahassee went on emergency

traffic you couldn't dispatch unless it was an emergency

over the radio and as I was tooling along, patroling south

at night, I observed all of a sudden a set of headlights

coming up on me at an extremely high rate of speed, it

just dumbfounded me cause I would estimate the speed in

excess of 100 mph and I had no way to go to get out of the

way, try to get behind them to clock them and they were on

me in such a short period of time that when they was

overtaking me on my left side, the inside lane, at just

about the time they got even with me they apparently

recognized the patrol car and they locked down their

brakes, well I instantly made up my mind I was going to

stop them regardless, so I, as they skidded past me with

the tires squalling, smoking and on the left side and when

they skidded by me I immediately turned on my top light so

I was committed then to stop them, when they skidded on in

front of me, low and behold this was the two felons uh

that we were looking for, this not being the ones in


QW: Tallahassee, they had made a mistake...

JR: What time of the night was this, Sheriff?

QW: It was, Jim it was somewhere around 10:30 11:00 at night,

I'm not real sure, it was late at night, I was the only

trooper in the county, so I couldn't have gotten any help

if I wanted to and the closest trooper to me it turned out

later was way down south at Cross City in Dixie County,

and I had no time, instantly I realized that that was who

we was looking for, the tag number of course jived, this

going back, this mother had a memory on her that was

unbelievable, she had remembered the tag number and all

and it was accurate, uh, so they skidded off on the

shoulder in front of me, I had just a second or two to

stop behind them, so instantly I had to make up my mind

what I was going to do, so, I knew that they knew that I

knew that they were speeding and driving reckless, so I

immediately uh, developed this ploy that this is what I

would be stopping them for, so I exited my car with my, of

course right behind them, there was a slight angle so

that, they skidded off at an angle to me so that my lights

were shining in the car more than just behind the car

there was a slight angle to them, they illuminated the

car, put my lights on bright, stepped out behind my door


QW: and then in a laughing manner called to them, something

like, Hey you fellas are really getting it, you know, that

old Lincoln will really run, you need to step back and let

me talk to you about your speed, of course I back then,

times have changed, I drew my revolver but stood behind my

door at ready, and I could hear them talking, I could hear

the driver talking I never heard the passenger, but he

made reference to him that he's only stopped us for

speeding and they argued for several seconds and finally

he got out with a big smile on his face and walked back to

me and said, yes we were trying it out officer, see what

it run and you know, you've caught us, and uh, as he

walked back to me he was smiling but when he got back to

my door, behind my headlights, I stepped out and of course

in a very low voice told him not to say anything at all...

JR: The passenger was still in the car?

QW: Still in the vehicle, still in his vehicle, uh, I then got

him behind my door, turned him around and handcuffed him,

I then walked him around behind my car and approached the

right side of my car behind the headlights and told him to

tell his friend that I needed to talk with him too, he had

already told, as he was walking back to me that his friend

owned the car, so I told him, I would not like to repeat


QW: everything that I told him, but I impressed on him not to

panic and that I wanted his buddy out of the car, that I

knew who they were and that I knew they were armed and uh,

if something happened he would be the first to go, so I

used him as a shield and I stood behind him and he

complyed, he called to his buddy, I don't recall even

their names now, I told him that I needed to talk with him

too, for him to come back, well when he did, he walked out

smiling and laughing too, and when he got up to me of

course I then I drew down on him, it was no problem

handcuffed them, well then they immediately, they were

very calm, they immediately told me that, if they knew

that I was stopping them for anything other than speeding

than I certainly wouldn't have taken them that easy, uh,

and in fact they repeated it several times on the way to

the jail and later on in interviews with the Sheriff of

Bay County, they just uh, they were dumbfounded that they

were taken that easy, I had fooled them. I was, it was an

instant decision on my part I think, turned out right for

everybody, these people, they later got life both of them

got life at that time we didn't have the citizen

guidelines that we got now, no point system and uh, they

both last I heard serving life in prison.


JR: What were the weapons discovered in the car subsequent to

your stop?

QW: Both weapons, the, ironically the machinegun was in the

trunk along with a dead rabbit, they had shot a rabbit

somewhere along the way, why I don't know we never did

talk to them about it, but it was in the trunk also a bank

bag from the Western Union, Panama City, but the 45

automatic was in the front and it was easily accessible to

the passenger, he had, the passenger had, until he got, he

actually had the 45 automatic.

JR: Well what you just described Sheriff, just simply

exemplifies what's been known about you for all these

years and a good, using good common sense and 'judgment and

also staying as some may say "cool" in a situation such as

that and most certainly it was a very precarious and

dangerous situation which someone could have been hurt and

very seriously. As a result of this apprehension, uh, the

Florida Petroleum Council award, you received it in 1965,

uh, as a result of the Troop Commanders choosing you, among

other type of instances that were taking place in other

parts of the state that your particular event was chosen.

What were, what was the, when you were presented this

award, what were the circumstances, where were you and


JR: what took place during that time when you were recognized

for these efforts?

QW: Well the first one, of course just getting organized and

off the ground, the first one, I received my award in St.

Augustine, Florida, uh, the Patrol flew to Perry and

picked me up and flew me to St. Augustine, we, a banquet,

very nice, they had, it was a banquet for the Florida

Petroleum, their annual banquet, Petroleum Council there,

and the highlight of it of course was the presentation of

the Trooper of the Year Award to me, uh, Colonel Clifton

was present, he went down, I believe Major Simmons, course

Troop Commander at that time was Captain Colson, and uh,

as I recall I think Ralph Moore flew the plane, but uh, it

was later on it got bigger, I mean they got, the first

year was very nice, the second year, course first year all

I got course was the plaque and the award and alot of

press over it, uh the second year of course, then they

began to give the receipent vacations for him and his

family, so the second year they made retroactive to the

first year and I was able to take my family and go to

Sarasota Beach and spend a weekend, expense paid and all

which was very nice and uh, and then it began to get

bigger, and bigger as years went by and uh, we later on

there was even some cash award with it with the Florida


QW: Petroleum Council, very fine outfit, very interested in

progressive law enforcement in the state of Florida and I

think it was very nice of them to come up with this idea

and it still stands today.

JR: Were you given some type of a badge that you could wear to

recognize you as a trooper...

QW: Yes, yes I was, we wore it right over our name plate, very

nice badge, it went on our uniform, I was very proud, I

was very proud of that, uh, of course, you know, as not

sitting here and, flapping my own wings or something, but

I had done several apprehensions I was equally proud of,

to me at the time wasn't no big deal Jim, to tell you the

truth, I had been involved in some to me were big, but

nobody knew about them, okay, personally that's the truth,

but at that time, not that particular thing cause it was

an all points bulletin, but I was about to hit on

something and I don't recall whether it was statewide or

not, we had a policy, I know it was in this troop back

then and that they having to work six days a week, we

could get an extra day off that was, we were, we coveted

it very much, so we got an extra day a week off if we

apprehended a load of moonshine with an apprehension, we


QW: got an extra day a week off if we apprehended a stolen

vehicle with the driver, or hit-n-run with personal injury

or fatality, so those three things we worked and Taylor

County having as much traffic, the troopers there

developed our own file, they have profiles now for drug

dealers, we developed the same type for moonshine

vehicles, and we worked very hard to apprehend stolen

vehicles with the driver to get an extra day a week off,

and uh, it was cut out why I don't know, I guess because

down in Taylor County we were getting quite a few extra

days off uh, for these apprehensions, in fact I recall

this particular month in June, I made seven felony

apprehensions -and four stolen automobiles the same month

that I got this award, June, 1964, and uh, there was

competition between me and another trooper down there, he

and I uh, did a lot of overtime work at night, rode

together, even when our shift was over and all just to try

to get an extra day off, we, it was very nice you know,

but anyhow they cut them out and I had seventeen days on

the books, days off that I lost never got to take them.

JR: In other words you' were getting so many apprehensions and

you were getting so many days off...


QW: What was ironic was I never got to take any of those days

off, it didn't last long, but that's right, it was a

stimulus for us to do, and work more, of course we didn't

have the Garcia Ruling, now we could work as long as we

wanted to, which we usually did uh, about twenty-four

hours and so it was an incentive to get and really do good

on those felony apprehensions and there's plenty of them

of in our county, coming through our county and uh, so we

accumulated quite a few days off to plan a fishing trip

and stuff like that, but needless to say I lost, I had

seventeen days I think cleared off the books, that I never

got to take when they done away with it. I don't recall

if it was just troop, I think it may have been statewide,

but I'm sure it would have had to have been, but we worked

on those stolen cars in Taylor County, escaped prisoners

and all.

JR: You indicated earlier that Lieutenant Gilbert was the

first supervisor in the station, was he supervisor at the

time that you received this award?

QW: Yes he was.


JR: When did he leave Taylor County and who replaced him or

the supervisor?

QW: Well he, I don't remember the exact year, he left uh 60

around 65 or 66, shortly after I got the award probably

later part of 65 and he went to Troop A, Panama City...

JR: Panama City, who replaced him Sheriff?

QW: Sergeant Amason, D. C. Amason.

JR: And how long was he in Perry?

QW: Approximately I'd say a couple of years.

JR: And who replaced him?

QW: Burnham, Sergeant Burnham, I believe he's still with the

Patrol. I think Peacock was there a short time and uh,

Carl Williams, who spent the fourteen years there also, I

worked for until I retired.

JR: I left after Burnham, Burnham if I recall is a district

commander in Lakeland now....


QW: Lakeland, still with the Patrol.

JR: Carl Williams was, Carl came to Perry from where?

QW: I believe he came, I'm not sure, Arcadia I believe, I

believe he came there from Arcadia.

JR: He, do you remember the year he was there, or came there


QW: No not that, I worked for him for fourteen years and I

retired January, of 82, so back it up a bit...

JR: That's long enough fourteen years, he was well thought of

and uh, I think everybody knows him and uh, I know how you

have felt about Sergeant Williams or Carl Williams as we

both know him. You saw some changes in the Patrol as the

years went by and you had indicated at the beginning of

the interview the first patrol car that you had was just a

car with none of the accessories that we all enjoy and our

troopers enjoy today, but during that time, we really

didn't mind the inconveniences or what have you, really we

didn't know any different, but anyway, what was one of the

biggest changes, let's start with equipment that you saw

in the Patrol from the time that you begin with the Patrol


JR: until the time that you retired in 82?

QW: Well, uh, of course age, we had .38 revolvers back then

and I was involved in an incident...

Turned tape over

JR: Sheriff we were just talking earlier, prior to our break,

about some changes in the Patrol and we were talking about

the vehicles, what were some of the changes that you

recall back when you came on to what it was from the time

that you retired?

QW: Well of course now we've gone to air conditioning,

automatic transmission, tinted windowshields, uh, seat

belts, uh, AM/FM radio, its unbelievable you know, but

all these makes, the troopers now don't realize how it was

back then, we were very, very proud of what we had back

then, but we didn't know anything else, you know, with all

those things make patrol life a lot better, life a lot

easier far as the vehicle, alot better equipped, we had no

second weapon, now they have the shotguns, rifles, where

we had just a .38, didn't have a .357, and uh, and there

was more reason, we had more reasons to get in gun

battles, I've been in several but they converted the old


QW: .38 revolvers to .357's, they got riot shotguns, they got

radars, all this stuff we didn't have back then, we had to

pace our vehicles, follow them so far and uh, for speeding

and so forth we didn't have intoxolizers that they got

today, uh, and those type things, or airplanes to survey

the traffic, manhunts, we had a walkie-talkie, I followed

bloodhounds a many a times after escaped prisoners with no

car, that was my thing I liked to go with the dogs, we had

a camp in Perry to escape from and, with no contact at all

with the dog or with the ground crew, didn't have an

airplane so I could see alot of things that's happened

over the years that's improved law enforcement, Highway

Patrol uh, some things you don't think about uh, I

mentioned earlier, uh, wearing short sleeve shirts in the

summer lot of people don't remember, I recall that in

summer time we wore long sleeve shirts with no air

conditioner in the cars, had to wear a hat all the time if

you got out of your car in the summer time to work an

accident you would get totally washed down in sweat and

sometimes you would have to go home and change your shirt

two or three times because it would be soaking wet and of

course your wife, they were ironable shirts back then with

starch in them and your wife had to iron at least two a

day, those things uh, I recall, help the Patrol, help the

men as they come along later on, of course they had radios



QW: in the patrol cars you could patrol and listen to the

radio, but I recall when you couldn't hide one and put it

in the car, uh, brake light switch were a no-no, seat

belts were no-no, they was all unauthorized equipment, but

now there norm, there standard you know, that's improved

the Patrol and our troopers should be proud of that but

then unless you've been through the old times, seen the

change they don't understand and the weaponry is alot

better, I understand their going to automatic pistols now,

well I recall like I said we just had a .38, didn't have a

second weapon in the trunk, .38 wouldn't penetrate and I

was involved in the changing of the weapons, and Trooper

Raker, trooper retired got in a shooting scrap in Taylor

County and uh, where we had to fire on a vehicle and they

came down and studied the vehicle, didn't the first bullet

penetrate even the driver's door, didn't even break the

glass in it, just old .38's, and they studied that car and

uh, decided we needed some more powerful weaponry, so they

went with .357, now Trooper Raker and I directly involved

in the Patrol getting the first carbins, we found out that

they was some surplus carbins for sale at Warren Robins

Air Force Base in Georgia and he and I, I had to work

midnight shift myself, we went up there together to see

what it would take to go through the Patrol to get these

on our own, nobody here at GHQ knew about it, we went all


QW: the way to Warren Robins, drove all day long got up there

and found out that the law enforcement could buy those

weapons, uh, in fact we ourselves purchased one a piece

for $10.00 that was all the money we had, we come back, I

called at that time Inspector Simmons, advised him of the

availability of those carbins and the Patrol later went and

bought two or three hundred as I recall, that's the first

second weapon that the troopers had to carry with them,

and I was very proud of my carbine.

JR: That was the second weapon that they were even authorized

to have.

QW: Even authorized to have in their cars, that's true.

JR: How many patches were on the shirt, the first shirts that

you were issued?

QW: One, one patch, on the left side, uh, of course, you had,

you was issued your shirt and the patch and you were

responsible to have them sewn on, they weren't, we didn't

have name plates back then they come a little later, uh,

the Patrol has come a long ways, a lot of improvements,

back then if I could draw a parallel I guess the hard


QW: times, and the hard work made it seem like the

commaraderie a little better, cause you was all in the

same boat, you all either, you starved to death together

I'll put it like that, there was the socializing was good

between the troopers, the wives and the kids, it was

unique, what little time you could get off together, you

spent together and uh, you take care of each other, I

recall that, have a very good feeling about those days

with the Patrol.

JR: Well you just addressed some of the other changes that

have taken place in the Patrol from the time 1956 to 1982,

and this kind of brings us up to uh, we're getting close

to 1982, but uh, before we discuss your retirement

Sheriff, is there anything else that you recall that is

changed or in the Patrol during your 25 years or so,

association with it, training, do you see a difference in

the training from your recruit class in 1956 right on up

to your retirement time?

QW: Oh yeh, of course we had good training back then under the

circumstances, course we got a new academy and they've

improved on it, enlarged it, the conditions out there of

course are a lot better, good training staff, good

equipment, uh, you know, I had been on years before they


QW: ever went to a firing range other than at the academy, uh,

the re-training is great, the oEEicers going back and

specializing in different phases of law enforcement, which

we didn't have back then, uh, its come so far, it really

has, over the years uh, of course, the biggest change that

we all enjoyed was of course going to a five day work

week, for our family's sake, uh, forty hours a week you

know, that was great, of course they began to get pay

raises where you could have way live you know, uh, but the

Patrol has come a long way, its uh, its really progessed

over the years I, if I'm very proud to have been a member

of it and saw the change myself, back in the old times

what we just discussed and then looking at it today I

passed a patrol car coming up here this morning, a mustang

and uh, the equipment on it, the antennas, thinking you

know, the radar sitting on the dash, those type things

that we didn't have years ago, but uh, I was talking to a

trooper the other day, of course they don't have to put

the miles back then, we would average 55, 60,000 miles a

year on a patrol car they don't average them now because

they don't have to, but I have a good feeling about the

Patrol even sitting here in this building and look at the

old troop headquarters used to sit just in front, just a

little, small building, now the commun, the whole

communications for the entire state operated out of the


QW: little garage behind it and uh, just one change I can see

from here you know that's taken place, was only at that

time, they was only of course Troop H (UKN), what we were

talking about earlier lack of communication, really it

wasn't unique in this troop, it was all statewide if you

lived in an outlying county, but uh, there's been alot of

changes and they've all been positive that I can see over

the years.

JR: During your time as a trooper Sheriff, you had a hobby

that developed into something that I think that you, I've

heard you and other folks talk about this, you've enjoyed

very much, what was this hobby?

QW: Well Jim, of course way back, years ago you've been apart

of it, it was hard to survive, of course my wife we had

the three kids, all right, bam, bam, bam, and she was

employed at that time with the state, she quit, so I had

to devise something that I could make some secondary

income with and not, the Patrol is strict about not having

a conflict of interest, so I come up with, I got into the

bee business, the honeybee business and it grew and I was

very proud of it, I, its a family business, my two sons,

my daughter, my wife we worked in it, we built it up

pretty well and on my time off, what little time I had,


QW: but later on, later as we got two days a week, I'd take

most of my vacation, my days off and I was involved with

working the bees, honeybees and producing honey, raw

honey, built up to a little over three hundred colonies

and uh, I done fairly good in it and enjoyed it, it was a

good family business and I loved it to death and done

pretty good with it, to supplement the income.

JR: That's great, let's get on up to the year 1982, I know

there was a lot of things going through your mind then,

and uh, would you like to tell us about them?

QW: Well in 1982 of course I retired from the Patrol, Taylor

County, I had spent my entire career, my 25 years

stationed in Taylor County, that was my home then, my

three kids was raised there, good school, good church, uh,

and uh, I wanted to retire and pursue my bee business

fulltime, uh, but I retired for two years, the situation

in Taylor County developed so that me having spent my

career there and I'm proud of my reputation in that

county, the political scene with the sheriff's department

wasn't what it should have been and drugs had come into

its home and we had a big drug problem in that county as

we are all aware of, uh, things didn't, the prior sheriff

to that and at that time were targets of investigation and



QW: one of them served time, federally, drug activity and the

public I'd say, come to me and uh, as a whole and put

pressure on me to, which I had never thought about ever

doing was getting in politics, and in fact running for

sheriff of that county, the furtherest thing from my mind

when I retired from the Patrol because I was not then and

am not now, a politician, but I ran, I ran for sheriff, I

knew the county having worked there so long, I knew the

ins and outs of the people involved with drugs, unique in

that county, I take my little savings, I didn't accept any

contributions and I financed my own campaign which is

smartest decision I ever made in that county, didn't take

any money from anybody, and I was elected sheriff by a

landslide, first primary, I had the biggest margin that

anybody had ever received in the history of that county,

very proud of that, and I served four years as sheriff,

and I'm very proud of that, I just recently retired the

first of last month, December, I enjoyed, I enjoyed it, it

gives you a different prospective in law enforcement

having been exposed to one side, the Patrol side for many

years, I was exposed to the other side or a different type

of law enforcement that I wouldn't take nothing for, uh, I

feel like that we had a good Sheriff's Department for four

years, I feel like the public had, I made my own decision

not to seek re-election, I did not have any opposition, I


QW: feel comfortable in fact all the candidates then after I

announced that I wasn't going to run, come out and we had

quite a few to run, but all of them assured me that had I

sought re-election they would not have come out, but my

family was raised and gone all my kids are gone, one in

North Carolina, one in California, and one in Texas, my

grandkids, four of them live in California, which we love

very dearly and my wife and I, she's retired, wanted some

time to travel and uh, we're getting old, our health of

course we all faced with that, so we decided to, I decided

to not seek re-election again she and I have some great

plans to travel and go to Alaska this summer and all,

which we've been planning for years, so I didn't seek

re-election and at the present time I am retired and she

set there and we're ready to go.

JR: That's great, Sheriff. Well you got some thirty years

almost thirty years in law enforcement and your career in

law enforcement is impeccable, its something as we said

earlier, I know and as I know you, your proud of it and

the Patrol is proud of your contribution through the years

that you spent with us and equally proud of you as your

contribution as Sheriff of Taylor County. Is there

anything else Sheriff that you can think of that you would

like to, comes to mind, uh, we haven't talked about...


QW: No, Jim, I think we just about covered everything.

JR: Well, let me just say again Sheriff Whittle that we're

grateful for you participating in this interview and

certainly what we've discussed this morning will become a

part of the history of the Patrol, there was some very

unique things that were brought out during our discussion,

on behalf of Director Burkett and staff let me again say,

thank you very much.

QW: Thank you Jim it was my pleasure.