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1972 to 1982

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Colonel Reid Clifton

Colonel James E. Beach
1972 to 1982

Lt. Colonel Roger C. Collar
Interim Director
July 31-December 14, 1982

FHP Director Colonel Reid Clifton

Colonel Reid Clifton took over the reins of the Florida Highway Patrol on August 15, 1969, with the blessings of Colonel Kirkman, the Governor, and the Cabinet. Colonel Clifton retired in 1972.

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FHP Director Colonel J. Eldridge Beach

On March 1, 1972, Lieutenant Colonel J. Eldridge Beach was promoted to Colonel and Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. Colonel Beach was born and raised in St. Petersburg where he was educated in the St. Petersburg public schools. After high school he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the Battle of Okinawa and also received the Presidential Unit Citation. He was discharged in 1946.

Upon completion of his military obligations, Colonel Beach entered the University of Florida where he made all-state honors in football and basketball and set four track records. In 1951 he won the State Heavyweight Golden Gloves Boxing Championship. He was inducted into the University of Florida's Football Hall of Fame.

Colonel Beach joined the Florida Highway Patrol as a Patrolman in 1951 but left in 1952 to become District Supervisor with the State Beverage Department. In 1953 he received the Junior Chamber of Commerce Award for the outstanding police work in Leon County. He went to work for the Attorney General's Office in 1954 as a special investigator and returned to the Florida Highway Patrol in 1957 where he came up through the ranks to Colonel and Director of the Florida Highway Patrol in 1972.

One of the first programs he introduced to the Patrol required all members of the Patrol to maintain a high level of physical fitness. Adherence to weight standards became part of personnel evaluations. Under Col. Beach, the Patrol initiated programs that emphasized hiring of more minority troopers and handicapped individuals for communications and office personnel.

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Law and Order Prevails

In 1972, a special task force of 225 troopers was trained and equipped for crowd control and sent to Miami Beach for both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. State forces arrested approximately 1,000 demonstrators and during the last day of the convention activity, approximately 25 FHP personnel required medical attention.

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Pay Raises for Specialized Jobs

In July 1972, approximately 180 troopers were promoted to the classification of Trooper II in order to give recognition and pay raises for two specialized jobs; Traffic Homicide Investigator and Chemical Test for Intoxication Instructor.

On December 15, 1976, Terry C. Davis began his career as a radio operator in Orlando. In June of 1977, his mother's medical condition became grave, cancer. The Patrol didn't have a radio operator position open when they transferred him to Panama City, but he was able to get a position with the Division of Driver License. A month later his mother died.

Terry Davis obtained his Federal Communications Certificate in January 1980, and transferred to Panama City. On May 1, 1983, he was sworn in as a member of the 68th recruit class. Trooper Davis' first duty assignment was Troop D - Orlando and remained there when he was promoted Traffic Homicide Investigator. On May 1, 1987, he was promoted to Sergeant and transferred to Troop L - Lantana. On November 1, 1992 he was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to Troop K in Pompano. He transferred to Troop K - West Palm District on September, 1993.

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The investigation section of the Patrol, working with the FBI and the National Auto Theft Bureau, conducted a "sting" operation known as "Gatorbait" which culminated in the arrest and conviction of 32 individuals involved in the distribution of stolen vehicles.

Operation Gatorbait was a $300,000 federally funded anti-fencing project in the central Florida area, initiated by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Auto Theft Bureau. Gatorbait was conducted for 17 months and covered an 18 state area, with the majority of activities taking place in central Florida.

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New Equipment

Bullet-proof vests, hand-held radios, and new winter style jackets were authorized for all patrol members in August, 1977. On August 16, 1977, less than two weeks after Trooper Bradley Glascock was gunned down on a Miami Expressway, the State Cabinet authorized the Patrol to purchase bullet-proof vests for all Troopers.

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First Female Trooper

Patricia Phillips was the first female trooper hired by FHP. She started on October 17, 1977. At that time, troopers were hired before they went to the Academy. She rode with a trainer for 30 days and then was put on the road by herself. She was a member of the 54th Recruit Class.

At the academy, she boxed with the men. When she was boxing, if her opponent hit her in the head, the head gear would swivel around and she would be looking out the ear hole. She said she went through most of the academy with a black eye and a goose egg on her forehead because the headgear didn't fit. Also the mouth pieces were one size. She wore men's uniforms and had them altered to fit her. "I had to alter them so much, the back pockets met in the middle."

"It was an experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world." Trooper Phillips has always been in the Miami area. When she was a Recruiter, she served with the first African-American trooper, Al Lofton.

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Highest Ranking African-American

In August 1974, Larry L. Austin began his professional career as a high school teacher in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He taught school until June of 1977, when he felt the desire to change careers. He decided he would like to become a member of the Florida Highway Patrol. On January, 1978, he entered the FHP Academy. His first duty station was Troop C - Tampa.

This was the beginning of his rise through the ranks. While in Tampa, in to 1982, he became a Traffic Homicide Investigator. In November 1984, he was promoted Corporal and assigned to Dade County, District III. He was the first line supervisor for a squad of nine troopers. He was also a Special Response Team Squad Leader and Traffic Homicide Investigation Coordinator. In October 1985, he was promoted to Sergeant. In March 1989, he was promoted to Lieuteant and assigned to District I in Miami. In October 1990, he was transferred to the Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy in Tallahassee as a Law Enforcement Training Officer. In February 1992, he was promoted to Captain and transferred to Troop L in Lantana, Florida, where he was the District Commander.

In November 1992, he was promoted to Major and transferred back to the Training Academy as Chief Training Officer. He was responsible for commanding and overseeing the planning, development and administration of all recruit career development, and specialized training schools for the Division and its personnel.

In July 1993, he was promoted to Chief, Bureau of Field Operations, Region III. He is responsible for the overall command and supervision of three Troop Commanders having the rank of Major in Troops E, L & K.

Chief Larry L. Austin is affilated with the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, Music Educators National Conference, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, State Law Enforcement Chief's Association, Florida Police Chief's Association, Florida Sheriff's Association, Florida Peace Officer's Association, and Command Officer's Association.

Chief Larry Austin has maintained his Department of Education Teacher's Certificate. In order to do this, he has taken continuing education studies throughout his career as a law enforcement officer. He has a very impressive educational background, in that he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Florida A & M Universary, as well as graduate studies at the University of South Florida, Florida State University, and Nova University.

He also has taken numerous career development courses at the Florida Highway Patrol Academy, Institute of Police Technology and Management at the University of North Florida, Southeast Florida Institute of Criminal Justice at Miami-Dade Community College, Lively Criminal Justice Training Academy, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief's Executive Seminar.

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FHP finds Kimberly Diane Leach

On February 19, 1978, the most massive missing person search in the history of Florida began in Columbia County by the Florida Highway Patrol under the guidance of Colonel J. E. Beach. A twelve year old girl, Kimberly Diane Leach, who had been abducted and murdered by Theodore Robert Bundy near Lake City.

The missing girl's body was found near the Suwannee River on April 7, 1978, by the Florida Highway Patrol search party. According to the State Attorney of the Third Judicial Circuit, the case against Bundy would not have gone to trial if the Patrol had not found the victim.

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Youngstown Train Derailment

In the early morning hours of February 26, 1978, the sleepy town of Youngstown was awakened by the derailment of 47 cars of a Bay Line freight train.

A chlorine tank car ruptured, releasing deadly chlorine vapor that left eight dead and 138 injured. The eight deaths and most of the injuries resulted when motorists on U.S. 231 drove into the deadly gas cloud which looked like a patch of fog.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Bay County Deputies, risking serious injury to themselves, prevented further loss of lives by blocking vehicular traffic on U.S. 231 and evacuating approximately 1,000 local residents.

The neutralization of the chlorine and the other dangerous chemicals required six days. During this time, 33 troopers and supervisors worked over 850 hours on roadblocks surrounding the evacuated areas.

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Consent Decree

In 1979, a Federal Lawsuit filed against the State of Florida by the United States Department of Justice alleging race and sex discrimination in employment by the Florida Highway Patrol, the State entered into a settlement with the Justice Department. The settlement was incorporated into a Consent Decree entered by the Federal Court for the Northern District of Florida on July 12, 1979. The Consent Decree required the Patrol to hire more minorities and women.

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Truckers Strike

In June 1979, an organization called Florida Independent Truckers Rights Association, called a strike which stopped all deliveries of gasoline from Port Everglades. The entire economy of South Florida was about to be brought to its knees as 1,500 service stations were out of gasoline.

Governor Bob Graham declared South Florida to be in a disaster emergency. He called in 1,800 National Guardsmen to transport the fuel with Florida Highway Patrol escorts. Five hundred and eighty-four truck loads of fuel were escorted by the time the strike ended on June 25th.

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Hurricane Frederick Slams into Pensacola

In September of 1979, the western tip of Florida's panhandle was besieged by nature's most feared disaster . . . a hurricane named Frederick. Frederick struck Pensacola with the most severe winds and tidal surge ever dealt to this hurricane conscious community.

Total destruction attributed to Frederick in the Pensacola community was in excess of $51 million. Health, traffic and looting problems were major in the wake of the storm. The Florida Highway Patrol was called in to assist as the community was without power for 97 hours and major highways, U.S. 98, I-10 and U.S. 90, were impassable. A total of fifty troopers and supervisors worked 1,400 man hours during the four days of disaster relief.

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Investigation Section

During the period of 1979-1980 while conducting 864 investigations the section made 383 arrest and recovered 274 stolen vehicles valued at 2.7 million dollars. The section also has the responsibility of investigation all Workman's Compensation claims, the security of all DHSMV revenue documents and the security of all Department facilities. The section has the responsibility of polygraph pre-employment screening of all Trooper applicants and internal affairs investigations as assigned by the Director.

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One Stop Service

"One Stop Service" was initiated by co-locating the Florida Highway Patrol, Driver Licenses, and Motor Vehicles into one building.

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Mariel Boatlift

In April and May of 1980, more than 100 troopers were sent to Key West and Miami to assist Troop E personnel in the handling and processing of 125,000 Cuban refugees who came to Florida's shores on the Mariel Boatlift.

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

On May 9, 1980, during a storm, a cargo ship entering Tampa Bay was blown off course into the concrete pilings of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Twelve hundred and fifty feet of the southbound section collapsed, falling 150 feet into 45 feet of water. Seven automobiles and one bus plummeted into the water before traffic could be stopped, leaving 35 people dead. The homicide investigation was conducted by Trooper II, C. L. Tyre, and consisted of 570 pages.

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In September 1980, the Patrol received funding for five new aircraft to bring the aircraft fleet to eleven. This made it possible to assign one plane to each troop for traffic law enforcement.

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FHP brings Order to Liberty City

One hundred members of the Patrol, from throughout the State, were ordered by the governor and cabinet to Dade County to assist with traffic enforcement from January 1981, through May 1981. A rapidly increasing crime rate prevented the Dade County Metro Police and the Miami Police Department from maintaining a proper response time for calls for police assistance. During this period, troopers made over 58,000 arrests, including 127 felony arrests, which helped local agencies reduce their response times and increase their felony arrests.

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Call Boxes

In 1982, the call boxes were installed on the Florida Turnpike for the convenience and safety of the motoring public. However, call boxes were already a reality for Miami since 1973. Florida was the first in the country to install this program.

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Interim Director Lieutenant Colonel Roger C. Collar

On July 31, 1982, Colonel Beach retired and Lieutenant Colonel Roger C. Collar was appointed Interim Director.

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Culture Shock

On February 15, 1982, Trooper Robin L. Hadley graduated with the 64th Recruit Class and the Patrol sent him straight to Miami, Troop K and was that ever a culture shock to a young man from Pensacola, Florida.

Presently, assigned to the Orlando District of the Florida Turnpike, he's a Firearms, First Responder, PR 24, Domestic Violence, and ASR Instructor. He was also one of the first Noise Enforcement Officers.

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