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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 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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.