Photo/Story Gallery 2004
Historical Society Honors FHP’s 1st Academy Class
The Manatee County Historical Society recognized past and current members of the Florida Highway Patrol in an unveiling of a historical marker at the location of the original training site of the FHP’s first academy class. The ceremony was held at the Manavista Hotel, and the historical marker placed at the Westminster Courtyard, located at the corner of 12th Street West in Bradenton. This event honors the 1939 official founding of the Florida Highway Patrol, which was in Bradenton, Florida.
Retired FHP Lt. Colonel Joe Henderson and retired FHP Captain Jim Cox were guest speakers at the event. These two gentlemen serve as the Florida Highway Patrol’s historians. At the event, they amazed guests with interesting artifacts of the Patrol’s history. Also on hand to celebrate this event were Colonel Ken Person with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Chief Michael Radzilowski, as well as other members of the Bradenton Police Department. The two law enforcement agencies were instrumental in the training of the first recruitment class of FHP troopers.
On November 6, 1939, one Bradenton man was accepted out of four thousand applicants to be a part of the first training class. The local man was Mack Britt, then aged 28. On December 6, 1939, he graduated with 31 other troopers. Another graduate, Trooper John McClung of Monticello, was assigned to patrol the Manatee and Sarasota County district from the Bradenton Station.
On that graduation day Manatee County Sheriff Hutches named each Highway Patrol Officer an honorary Manatee County Deputy. After graduation that day, Trooper McClung received his new 1940 Model Ford, V-8 with 85 horsepower, painted black and cream, along with a bulletproof windshield. In this car, he began his first patrol. Trooper Jay Hall assisted him on that first historic day. These two troopers can be credited with the patrol’s first arrest. One suspect was arrested for DUI and 22 other vehicles were stopped for various vehicle equipment violations.
On behalf of past, current, and future members and families of the Florida Highway Patrol, we thank the Manatee County Historical Society and its President, Pam Gibson, for recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the many fine men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol. This historical marker will serve as an everlasting monument of their dedication to the citizens of Florida.