Town of Shalimar
History of the Shalimar Police Department
|What started as a sleepy little bedroom community with
dirt trails now experiences the rush of over 50,000 cars daily passing
through the Town Of Shalimar’s main artery, Eglin Parkway. That
traffic keeps the Shalimar Police Department very busy.
The first Police Chief, John Blackburn retired in October 2000. When Blackburn was working for the County in 1972, then Mayor Pop Sullivan requested a Marshall for the Town, and Blackburn was hired for $500 a month. He patrolled the Town and Longwood, Lake Lorraine and the Port Dixie area. At that time there was no Town Hall, meetings were held at the Shalimar Methodist Church, and Jim Tras was the Town Clerk.
When Tom Maulden was elected Mayor in 1974, he wanted a real Town Hall with a real Police Department. Blackburn was hired on as the "Police Department." The beginnings were sparse. Chief Blackburn didn’t have a police car, nor did he have any crime fighting equipment. He patrolled the Town in his own car. The Eglin Military Police donated the first RADAR equipment to the Police Department.
Other elected officials in 1974 included Mrs. Lucille Hanks, Lee Souders and Reba Mackin. The Town meetings were held in the downstairs room of the old A-Travel Passport building at the corner of Eglin Parkway and Richbourg. In 2001, the building was purchased by Vanguard Bank and demolished. Mrs. Dee Sounders acted as part-time Town Clerk until LaTeresa Banks was hired as full-time Town Clerk. Any equipment was bought at Eglin Air Force Base’s salvage sales.
At that time, Shalimar also hired its first maintenance man and moved to 13 Cherokee Road, a few houses from the current Town Hall. In April 1979 when Mr. Tom Maulden offered to sell the house at 2 Cherokee Road for $46,000 to the Town, the Commission agreed to pay cash and immediately moved into its new home - a former single family residence. This old single family facility was extensively renovated and expanded in CY2001.
In 1979, the parcel where the Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex is located was still a vacant field. What is now Garnier’s Cay used to be little beach houses giving temporary lodgings to young families.
The Police Department was finally able to increase its department too. With the help of the federal CETA program, it hired another policeman. Now, the Department consists of the Chief, two full-time officers and one or two part-time officers. It has more work now with an ever-increasing caseload.
It has taken the Police Department over twenty years to grow to where it is now. "We have a facsimile, good radio equipment, new RADAR and three cars. Schooling for the officers continues to keep them up with new laws," said Chief Blackburn just before he retired. "Our response time is very quick. During the past years only six or seven cars were stolen, and we got them all back. With the emergence of computers and data being available through the Sheriff’s Department, many crimes are solved quickly. We catch somebody for a traffic violation, put their license number in the computer, and then we catch them for something else. We have all the resources that a large department has," continued the retiring Chief, "just on a smaller scale." There are more disturbance calls, more traffic accidents, more moving violations.
A lot of things happened in 20 years – growth and development cannot be halted – and not all of it is better. But with the state-of-the-art equipment and well-trained, vigilant officers, the Shalimar Police Department is doing its share to keep Shalimar with as little crime, disturbances and other violations as possible.
CY2000, the department experienced a complete turnover of patrolmen.
Chief Blackburn and Sergeant Dickerson formally retired. Sgt.
Loafman accepted a position with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's
Department. The department began a slow rebuilding process.
Plans were to continue employment of three full-time and one to two
part-time officers. During a five year transition period,
the Chief position was held by: Chief Gary Loafman, Chief Jim
Spires, Chief Charles Self. Currently, Chief John Cash,
John Spohn, Sergeant Steve Shadwell and Detective Carl Miley are the
Town's full-time police department.
The commission has recently made a commitment to update both police
department equipment and salaries to be competitive with the surrounding
communities. Our policeman have the latest equipment to
include digital video and wireless police information computer systems in
each vehicle. With highly motivated officers and
updated equipment, the Shalimar Police Department is a tribute to the
the Shalimar Police Department home page.