Bradenton, Florida 1939
In 1939, the Legislature created the Department of Public Safety and Florida Highway Patrol. Governor Fred P. Cone appointed W.F. Reid director in September. On October 1, Major H. Neil Kirkman was appointed Commandant of the Highway Patrol. To get the first troopers a training school was organized, based on the Ohio Highway Patrol. Principal instructor was Major George Mingle of the OHP. Kirkman's personal friend, Kirkman arranged with the Bradenton Chamber of Commerce to use their rooms in the Municipal Pier for classes. The men lived at the Manavista Hotel, located at 13th St. West at the River. The first class accepted only 39 men. Mornings were lectures at shooting, motorcycle riding, first aid and accident reporting. One local boy was accepted: Mack Britt, age 28, a Palmetto High 1931 graduate. On November 5, Miss Irene Arnold, Patrol secretary, arrived with 38 other students. The men underwent physical exams at the Manavista given by Dr. L.W. Blake.
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Manatee Co. Sheriff C.J. Hutches and J.T. Lowe of Duval County's Road Patrol taught motorcycles, using 12 Model 84 Harley Davidson cycles. F.B.I. Special Agent J.W. Vincent told the students about arrest techniques and fingerprinting. Practical work included
self-defense, use of the police labs and cooperation with other jurisdictions. State Senator Dewey Dye of Manatee Co., spoke on courtroom demeanor and legal topics. Georgia Highway Patrol Chief Lt. L.O. Whiteside taught public safety awareness. Recruits learned the evils of marijuana from the U.S. Customs Bureau. Harlee and Harrison Motor Company supplied a fleet of Ford V-8s, 85-hp 1940 Models. Bradenton Police radio officer Bill Sheetz demonstrated how to operate the radio, located in the trunk of his car. By the end of the four week course, the new troopers were in full uniform of forest green whipcord with orange bands on the grey hats, patterned after the New York State Police. The Patrol insignia was an orange. Graduation day oath was administered by Fla. Secretary of State R.A. Gray.