History of the Pensacola Police Department
The following information was compiled by Sgt. Michael Simmons
The Founding of Pensacola
On Aug. 14, 1559, Don Tristan De Luna y Arellano, accompanied by more than 1,600 soldiers, women, children, black workers, and Aztec Indians, entered Pensacola Bay to settle the area for Spain.
They established a settlement on the shore of what is now Fort Barrancas at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and became the first European settlement in North America.
After only a short time, a hurricane destroyed the settlement, and unsuccessful attempts were made to resettle the area by Luna and others for the next 133 years.
On April 7, 1692, Spanish Admiral Andre de Pez claimed this area known to the Indians as "Panzacola" for Spain and a fort was built on the site of the original Luna settlement. For more than 50 years, Panzacola was fought over and claimed by the Spanish,
In the late 1740s, the Spanish built a small fort known as Fort San Miguel (Saint Michael) on the mainland where their mission was located. That area is known today as Seville Square. During that time, the water line came up to present day Main Street. In November of 1752, another hurricane destroyed all the surrounding settlements except Fort San Miguel and almost immediately, all of the Spanish settlers moved into the fort, which became the Spanish headquarters for the area.
The Spanish called the settlement by the Indian name "Panzacola" while the French called it "
On Nov. 27, 1764, members of The British Provincial Council appointed themselves and 19 other residents as Justices of the Peace for Pensacola, and this is the first known form of government in the area.
The Correctional System in Pensacola
In 1776, a British surveyor, Joseph Purcell, designed a map of the city of Pensacola. The map showed the city boundaries: The waterfront on the South, Government Street on the North, West to Palafox Street, and East To Alcaniz Street. In other words, the city was made up of Seville Square to Plaza Ferdinand and everything between.
Included in the map was a building labeled "Prison, a brick building." Later, as the city expanded, another Pensacola map of Purcell's showed a "Gaol (jail), built of brick." This small jail was located on what is now the Southwest corner of Alcaniz and Intendencia streets.
The jail was not the only form of punishment. Prisoners were often sentenced to be shackled to a pillory in the middle of the town square, which is Ferdinand Plaza today. Incidentally, neither rain, heat, cold, nor an appeals court had any effect on a judge's sentence. It was the custom for citizens to throw slimy garbage and rotten eggs at prisoners. Flogging and tar and feathering were two of the most popular forms of "discipline" administered. One instance involved a prisoner who was tarred and feathered, then set on fire and paraded down the major streets. These were obviously effective crime
The Battle of Pensacola
On March 9, 1781, Spanish Field Marshall Bernardo de Galvez led an assault on the British in an attempt to capture Pensacola. Galvez and his men traveled from Mobile by two means - half marched on land and half sailed in the Gulf by ship. When they reached
Without much opposition, they took the fort located near where Fort Pickens stands today. The next day, they came across the bay to where Pensacola Country Club is now, and then moved
From that point, they attacked the British at Fort George on Gage Hill (about Palafox and Larua streets), as well as the two redoubts (fortifications) - one located at Spring and Cervantes streets the other at
Andrew Jackson and the Pensacola Police Department
On July 17, 1821, at 6:30 a.m., Gen. Andrew Jackson entered Pensacola to accept the territory of East and West Florida for the United States. When he arrived, he immediately went to join his wife, Rachel, who had arrived a few days earlier. They ate breakfast at the Governor's house at Palafox and Government Streets, overlooking Plaza Ferdinand. Rachel despised being in Pensacola and at one time wrote in a letter to a friend saying she wanted to leave the "heathen town" she was in because of all of the profanity and the fact that the saloons did not close on Sunday.
It was at 10 a.m. on July 17 that Andrew Jackson entered Plaza Ferdinand and accepted Pensacola for the United States. The following day - July 18, 1821 - Jackson got to work setting up the government of the city of Pensacola. He appointed an alcalde, mayor, aldermen (councilmen), harbor master, health officer, and a resident physician. Jackson also created the Pensacola Police Department by appointing a city constable (policeman) to keep order within the city.
And at the urging of his wife, Jackson also established a new law which mandated that saloons be closed on Sundays. Within a week, the city jail of this new American territory housed its first celebrity. Jackson ordered the arrest of the former Spanish governor, Lt. Col. Jose Callava, over a dispute with Jackson. However, it is thought that it was not the civil authorities which made the arrest, but Jackson's American soldiers. The next day, the Spanish leader was released by Gen. Jackson. About a week later, the Jacksons left Pensacola and returned home.
Pensacola's Escape Artist
On July 14, 1827, Thomas Jones,
While he was on the trail, he was approached by two men, one of whom had a gun and the other a knife. The man with the gun shot at Jones, missing his head by less than an inch, and the other stabbed
Soon after, a local ruffian named Martin Hutto was identified as one of the attackers. He was arrested and transported to the only jail in the territory, the one in Pensacola.
In 1813, a
In November, Hutto voluntarily turned himself in, anticipating an acquittal when the judge came into town later that month and held court. Unfortunately, Judge Brackenridge did not come for his November hearings, so Hutto had to wait until May of 1828. Fearing that Hutto would escape again, he was held in the jail at the Army camp known as Cantonment Clinch (located on Bayou Chico).
Hutto escaped from the army jail on Jan. 23, 1828, but was quickly recaptured and stood trial on May 7, 1828. He was convicted by the jury and held in the Pensacola jail while awaiting sentence. On May 15, Hutto again escaped. Hutto was recaptured and returned to Pensacola in October 1828 where Judge Brackenridge sentenced Hutto to two years.
On March 27, 1829, Hutto escaped for the fourth and last time - this time also from the Pensacola jail, never to be heard from again. The city fathers finally realized that they needed to address the problem of the old jail.
The Pensacola Police Department Grows and Earns Respect
In the late 1840s, the city began to grow and city officials knew it was going to take more than one person to keep order. After all, Pensacola was becoming a major port, bringing in sailors and visitors from all over the world.
Therefore, funds were allocated for the hiring of several additional police officers. To be an officer in Pensacola, a man had to be in excellent physical shape. An officer was generally respected wherever he went, and he was considered the toughest guy around. This reputation had to be earned, though.
When an officer responded to an area where a problem existed, it was his responsibility to bring the situation under control. It was unusual to have another officer near and there
In 1868, Florida adopted a new constitution which changed the relationship between the state government and the city government. The Pensacola Police Department was reorganized and new rules were adopted. Professionalism increased, and the department became even more acclaimed all over the
On Feb. 14, 1885, Governor Perry issued an act to dissolve all municipal corporations in Florida and provide a provisional government. This act completely reorganized Pensacola. The Pensacola Police Department, under the command of Marshal Mallett, was reorganized two days later.
Joseph Wilkins, who was also the sheriff of Escambia County, was appointed the new marshal (chief). The first officers were: John B. Griffin, Ed Cope, J.G. Gonzalez, Felo Roche, James Farinas, M.C. Gonzalez, John Adams, Mike Oneal, A.D. Cromwell, and H. Cole. On February 17th, Ed Clark, John Williams, and W.R. Gordon were confirmed. Fransisco Touart and W.R. Kerling were confirmed shortly thereafter. Griffin was made Deputy Marshal and Touart was promoted to captain. Monthly pay was:
On April 20, 1885, City Commissioner W.D. Chipley believed that prisoners should be treated right, so he resolved that the ones who worked be allowed three meals a day.
When the new department was organized, it was determined that a more professional attitude would be taken. New rules and regulations for police officers were established. Among them:
- Officers could not sit down while on duty.
- Officers could not drink "spirituous liquor" in the police station.
- Officers had to be able to read and write in English, never have been indicted and convicted of a crime, of physical health and vigor, of good moral character, and of unquestionable energy.
- The more intelligent officers were stationed on the main streets.
- An officer could not use his club or pistol except when he was protecting his life or if someone showed resistance.
- An officer could not leave his beat unless he was taking an arrestee to the police station or for an emergency.
- Officers could not visit bar rooms while on- or off-duty.
- An officer could not be absent for roll call more than three times a month.
On June 17, 1895, the city commission created a set of rules regarding prisoners while in the city jail. Two of
- Prisoners after arrest and while in the station house using profane, insulting, or indecent language will immediately be confined to the dungeon and given only bread and water to eat.
- If a person was fined for an offense but could not pay the fine, he was ordered to work for punishment instead. If he refused to work, he was also placed in the dungeon and fed only bread and water.
Changes in Chiefs and Stations
On April 12, 1838, The Pensacola Gazette contained an article which had the following:
"In 1836 the city erected a good and substantial jail on the site of the old Spanish Calleboos." This building was a
In 1887, police headquarters was located in the T.T. Todd building, formerly "Legends" and "Shanahan's" on Main Street between Tarragona and Jefferson. In 1892, the Pensacola Police Department was relocated to the Southwest corner of Jefferson and
In 1896, E.A. Wallace was Marshal. In the jail, the female prisoners and the male prisoners were housed separately; however, they could still talk to each other. Marshal Wallace decided that this was not enough punishment for the prisoners. He believed they should not be allowed luxuries such as speaking with members of the opposite sex. Consequently, he ordered a new jail built next door and the female prisoners (described as
On Sept. 3, 1897, Frank Wilde became Marshal over the police department. The marshal was essentially the chief of police. However, he did not possess the authority to hire, fire, or, in most cases, discipline. This was done by the Board of Public Safety. It was not until city officials reorganized their form of government and began operating under a city manager that the chief became a department head with full authority over his agency. At that time, the name was officially changed to Chief of Police.
In 1898, Chief Wilde took office but had his hands full. His officers had to be tough, both mentally and physically, because they had the job of keeping order and enforcing the law in this spirited town.
On Oct. 21, 1909, F.D. Sanders took over as Chief. Sanders realized that the 12-hour shift (6:00 to 6:00) being worked by the officers was too long, and he was not getting the most potential from them. So he instituted an 8-hour shift.
In 1921, E.E. Harper became Chief. One of the biggest problems Chief Harper faced was "moonshiners" and "
Chief William O'Connell took over as chief in 1927 and remained at the helm for 20 years. Not only did the department grow under his leadership, but also the city expanded, World War II came and went, and police cars became the mode of transportation. When he stepped down from his position in 1947, the city appointed Crosby Hall to replace him.
Under Chief Hall's direction, there were many changes. In 1955, the department again changed locations, this time to 40 S. Alcaniz St. It was at this time that the Pensacola Police Communications section was born. Officers now had the latest equipment: Two-way radios where they could communicate with dispatchers (but not with each other).
The dispatch room was approximately 4 feet x 4 feet. Later, dispatchers moved to a much larger room - 12 feet x 12 feet. By this time, the city had begun purchasing more patrol cars, and it became common practice for officers to ride alone and cover more area. The procedure of riding "solo" is still in use today.
Chief Hall retired at the end of 1961. Early in 1962, Drexel P. Caldwell became the new chief. While he was in control, violent race riots took place on the west side of town, particularly around the Belmont and Devilliers streets area. Many businesses were burned and property destroyed. There were also anti-Vietnam protests during this time.
Chief Caldwell realized the occupation of
Chief Caldwell remained in that position until James Davis took the reigns in 1974. As the Vietnam War veterans were returning home, drugs became very popular. Marijuana, which had already been enjoying widespread use for about 10 years, was joined by hashish, heroin, LSD, and cocaine. All of these drugs had been used and misused for many years, but the consumption of illegal drugs emerged as a major problem for the Pensacola Police Department during this time. Davis was chief for the next six years, retiring in 1980.
In 1980, long time police officer Louis Goss was promoted from captain to chief. Under Chief Goss' leadership, a new police headquarters was built on the corner of Hayne and Cervantes streets under Interstate 110. After nearly 50 years of keeping the peace in Pensacola, Chief Goss retired on Dec. 31, 1994. That same day, city officials named the new police station after him.
On March 17, 1885, officers were given uniforms. Each officer's uniform consisted of a wool double-breasted coat with buttons, a vest, hat, belt, and a badge. He was also issued a club.
In the 1890s, if an officer was confronted with an emergency, or needed assistance, he blew his whistle and hoped another officer heard him. April 1, 1896, Marshal Wallace complained to the Board of Public Safety that new, louder whistles were needed, because the current ones could not be heard 1/2 block away. Marshal Wallace argued that this was a safety hazard for his men. The city commission agreed and provided the department with whistles for every officer.
In the early part of the century, officers did not have to worry about gassing up police cruisers, keeping them clean, in good running order, and with lights and sirens working. However, they did have to contend with another problem. On Sept. 5, 1900, a report was made to the Board of Public Safety that one patrol horse was out of commission because it had been kicked by another patrol horse.
On May 17, 1909, The Pensacola Police Department moved into the 20th Century when telephones were first installed in the police station. Following this, call boxes were positioned at street corners around the city. From these call boxes, officers could call the police station, maintaining constant contact. It became policy for officers to "call in" periodically and check for calls on their beat. However, if there was an emergency, the desk sergeant rang the city bell. For instance, if the officer was working Beat 3, the desk sergeant would ring the bell three times to tell him to call.
In the early 1900's, gasoline powered vehicles were abundant in Pensacola. However, the Pensacola Police Department only owned several horses and one wagon, which was used by the captain. The majority of the department walked a beat.
In 1913, the department acquired a motorcycle, and in 1914, an automobile was purchased. As technology increased, Pensacola was not to be left out: AM radios were installed in patrol cars. The desk sergeant had a transmitter and would put out a call to a certain cruiser three times in the belief an officer would hear at least one of the calls. However, they could not transmit, only receive.
In the 1940s, police cars became popular. However, they were not marked, so in order to pull someone over, the officer pulled up beside the car, wagon, or horse, and honked his horn.
The value of police cars was soon realized because an officer in a cruiser could cover more area than an officer on foot. Eventually, it became standard for officers to ride two to a car. The drawback was that the police car acted as a barrier to the public. He lost the personal contact with the people that he had enjoyed before police cars were used. He also lost many of the sources that gave him information on what crime was occurring and who was committing that crime.
Some Interesting Facts About the PPD
In 1783, Pensacola was one of the most important cities in the territory. It was for this reason that the Panton-Leslie Trading Company was established. This was the largest goods trading company in the territory. Trappers and Indians from hundreds of miles away would bring furs, hides, and other goods in exchange for food and supplies. The hides were "tanned" or finished, making them ready for use. A special compound, located between Reus and Coyle streets and between Intendencia and Government streets, was used for the tanning. From
On March 3, 1845, Florida officially became the 27th state. However, when the local residents opened the newspaper, they were more interested in the circumstances involving Jonathan Walker. Walker was arrested by Pensacola Police for attempting to free seven slaves aboard his boat. When he went to court, he was tried and convicted. He was placed in the public pillory and his hand was branded with an "SS" for "Slave Stealer." However, on February 5, 1846, using a pickaxe which had been smuggled into the cell with him, Walker escaped from the Pensacola jail. He was later caught and placed back into the jail. However, a citizen paid his fine, he left
The month of December 1885 was not a good month for the Pensacola Police Department. During that month alone, 17 prisoners escaped. Fifteen of these were working outside under the guard of one poor soul, and two of them left
On July 24, 1895, Officer Ryan came before the Board of Public Safety on the charge of discharging a firearm unnecessarily in the city limits. Ryan pled
On Dec. 1, 1896, Mayor Anderson stated that prisoners had been allowed to leave the jail at different times, had been found drunk on the streets and had to then be brought back to the station to sober up. This was occurring when the prisoners ought to be working. So the Pensacola Board of Public Safety ordered that the following notice
Most citizens of Pensacola, as well as government officials, were supportive of the job that a police officer had during the late 1800s. On Dec. 11, 1896, a complaint was made against Officer E. C. Briggs by John Lear for unwarranted clubbing while arresting him. The board of Public Safety investigated the incident and found that the clubbing was necessary and reasonable. They unfounded the complaint, and Officer Briggs was exonerated.
On June 26, 1901, the City of Pensacola authorized the first plain-clothes officer "as long as it did not cost the city any money!"
In 1920, a holiness church (presently the First Assembly of God Church located at 12th Ave and Bayou Blvd) bought an old
In the mid-1940s, being drunk in public was illegal. However, many sailors roamed the streets in downtown Pensacola, and it was extremely difficult for them to remain sober. So the Pensacola Police Department adopted an unwritten law: Intoxicated persons were allowed to be in public as long as they remained south of the railroad tracks which ran parallel to Main Street. If the drunk person was found to be on the "wrong side of the tracks," he was arrested.
During the same time period, the placement of officers around the city changed. Officers were positioned in the following fashion: Beat officers on foot were placed approximately every two blocks along Palafox Street from Gregory to Cedar. There was one officer in a police car on the West side of town and one on the East side.
In 1898, the lumber boom was in full swing in Pensacola, and the value of pine forests of northern Escambia County and South Alabama was discovered. Many Pensacolians took advantage of this discovery by establishing lumber companies which exported tons of timber each year. The city was growing and expanding at an incredible rate. These new "lumber families" became very wealthy and moved north of the city to an area of they called "North Hill." Here, these prosperous families built extravagant homes and "escaped" from the old city.
East Hill was developed, as well as the West side of town, all the way to Brownsville, although much of this area was sparsely populated. Downtown Pensacola was a
In 1900, Chief Wilde convinced the city commission that, in order to maintain an efficient police force, they would have to spend more money. Pensacola was growing in
During the early 1900s, the Pensacola Police Department began testing officers periodically in their knowledge of the laws and the locations of businesses and streets. They were also required to be in excellent physical shape. Officers walked the streets in pairs. As they were walking down busy sidewalks, it was required of citizens to move when the officers approached and shouted "Gang Way."
In 1929, the city reached a milestone: The first traffic light was put into place at the intersection of Palafox and Garden streets.
On July 21, 1931, the city adopted a new form of government. The City Manager - Council Charter form was begun. The first city manager, O.J. Semmes, was hired. Semmes reorganized the police department and built a new police station. Pensacola was coming of age.
In 1936, under City Manager George Rourke, another council form of government was adopted.
Pensacola's Own Red Light District
Another problem began to surface at the turn of the century. With the increase of sailors and lumber workers, prostitution appeared on the scene. This "profession" became so popular that a section of the city was set up to accommodate it. The "Red Light District" included houses on Zarragossa Street from Palafox Street to Barcelona Street and Baylen Street from Government Street to Main Street.
This was a place where men frequented, good girls did not go, boys crept in to look around, and, if a wife was seen there, someone was in trouble! Extra police patrols were assigned to the area, which was informally allowed to operate, as long as the girls remained clean and disease free and informed on all lawbreakers.
Some of the houses in the area were very nice. A few of the madams that operated the houses even had their girls checked for disease periodically by doctors. This was evidently a selling point. Many of the madams would not allow their girls to drink or smoke while on "duty." The idea was to give the look of a good American girl to the customers.
Policeman - Always the Same
On Oct. 21, 1895, Officer C.
- Inefficiency of duty.
- Living with a woman without being married (a known prostitute).
- Obtaining money from a woman and refusing to return it.
The outcome of his hearing: Dismissed from the force.
Officers acted and reacted much the same in the earlier days of Law Enforcement as they do today. For instance, on June 24, 1900, Officer Ward, with the assistance of a citizen,
During the first years of the twentieth century, the requirements for being a police officer were less than that of later years. Many officers were just civilians who could not get jobs elsewhere. As a result, the board of public safety handled at least three or four suspensions and dismissals every month. In other words, 20 to 25 percent of the entire department changed monthly.
On June 10, 1909, Officer J.G. Hilliard was off duty and went into "The Alligator," a bar at Wright and Tarragona streets off duty. Officer Hilliard stayed at the bar a long time, drinking. When he finally got up from the chair he was in, his pistol fell out of his pocket. He was asked to leave by the employees, who complained about him to the department. He then proceeded to the bar on the corner of Tarragona and Garden streets and began cursing and acting disorderly toward a man named Joe Morris. When the whistle was blown on him (literally), Officer W.M. Malone responded, but did not arrest Hilliard. Both officers were reprimanded.
Pensacola Police Make a Mark in History
On Feb. 15, 1978, while working the midnight shift, Pensacola Police Officer David Lee was working the Brownsville area. While he was checking buildings, he noticed a Volkswagen Beetle behind Oscar's Restaurant on West Cervantes Street. Almost immediately, the driver pulled the car onto Cervantes and drove to "W" Street, where he turned North with Officer Lee behind him. Lee ran a check on the tag and discovered that the Volkswagen had been reported stolen. Lee pulled it over outside city limits at W and Cross streets near Catholic High School. He ordered the driver out of the car and made him lie down.
When Lee approached, the man attacked him and tried to take his gun. It was necessary for Officer Lee to use force to subdue the man. He was then placed under arrest and taken to the Pensacola Police headquarters. The FBI soon identified the man through his fingerprints.
The man was Theodore Bundy, the most notorious serial murderer the world had ever known. During the hours Detective Norman Chapman interviewed Bundy, he made statements that were to prove significant in the murder case of Kimberly Leach, a 12-year-old girl who was murdered in Lake City and buried in a shallow grave nearby. Bundy was subsequently found guilty of this crime and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
The Meaning of the Pensacola Police Shield
The Pensacola Police Department has one of the most unique and attractive badges in existence.Officers, badge collectors, and historians worldwide have attempted to purchase our badges. However, they are not for sale. The only way to possess one legally is to become a Pensacola Police officer. Here is a brief summary of the symbolism found in this great shield.
The City Seal The seal of the City of Pensacola is located in the center of the shield. This is a very unique but symbolic item. The first thing one notices is the round circle, the five different dates, the black hand and pen over the black shield, and the symbols inside the shield.
The red color of the circle symbolizes military fortitude.
The five dates represent the five times that the city underwent a new charter, effectively meaning the five times the city “began.”
The hand stands for faith, sincerity, and justice.
The pen symbolizes educated employment.
The shield represents the protection of citizens.
The black color of the hand and shield stands for constancy, which is what Pensacola has maintained for many years.
The symbols inside the shield are a cross and crown. These symbols represent the mission that De Luna was on when he first settled in Pensacola to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and claim the area for the Spanish crown.The “Pensacola” Banner A banner with “Pensacola” is displayed across the middle of the shield. This banner symbolizes the city’s reward for its long and rich valiant service. The blue color of the banner represents loyalty and truth The Five Flags Pensacola is known as “The City of Five Flags” because during its history, the city came under the rule of five governments: Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States. The Laurel Leaves The laurel leaves on each side of the shield under the banner stand for the peace and triumph that Pensacola enjoys in its rich heritage. The Eagle The eagle at the top of the badge is a symbol of power and sovereignty. For Pensacola Police officers, this symbolizes the courage and freedom that we all fight for. Finally, the eagle’s wings are spread the entire length of the badge. It is the duty of Pensacola Police Officers to “spread our wings” and protect the citizens of our city.
On Dec. 31, 1994, Norman Chapman was named the new chief of the Pensacola Police Department. Shortly thereafter, Jerry Potts was appointed as assistant chief.
Chief Chapman initiated a program that assigned police vehicles to every officer. A new K-9 corps was established and several sections within the department were reorganized. These changes, along with others, increased morale throughout the department.
Jerry W. Potts was promoted to Chief in February 1999 and continued the quest for finding improved technology for officers to work the streets until his retirement in March 2002.
Capt. John W. Mathis became the department's Chief on April 8, 2002, and brought with him the support not only from the public but also from within the ranks.
When Chief Mathis retired June 11, 2010, Assistant Chief Chip W. Simmons was named Interim Chief of Police. Pensacola Mayor Ashton J. Hayward, III appointed Simmons Chief of Police on March 28, 2011.
Chief Simmons promoted Capt. David Alexander III to Assistant Chief on September 15, 2014, making him the first African-American within the department to be promoted to that rank.
The Pensacola Police Department has a rich heritage and today's officers carry on that heritage in the quality service that they perform.
"Pensacola, Spaniards to Space Age" "Pensacola in Pictures and Prints" "The Emergence of a City in the Modern South; Pensacola, 1900-1945" Minutes Pensacola City Council Minutes Pensacola City Commission Minutes Pensacola Board of Public Safety meetings First Assembly of God record book Pensacola Police Department records Pensacola Historical Society files Pensacola City Hall records "Success Beyond Expectations; The Panton-Leslie Trading Company" John C. Pace Library files West Florida Regional Library files "Andrew Jackson and Pensacola" "Colonial Pensacola" "Ante-bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence" "Pensacola, the Deep Water City" "Pensacola, the Old and the New" "Letters from Pensacola, Descriptive and Historical" "Pensacola: Florida's First Place City" "Siege: The Battle of Pensacola"
Chief Norman Chapman
Chief Louis Goss
Chief James Davis
Chief D. P. Caldwell
Mrs. Clyde Touart