Williston Police Department
First attested in English
c.1530, the word police comes from the Latin politia, which
is the latinization of the Greek politeia, "citizenship,
administration, civil polity" and that from polis, "city."
In ancient Greece the term polissoos referred to a person
who was "guarding a city."
America inherited much of its governmental institutions from
Great Britain. American law enforcement is no exception.
The first Europeans, who landed on our shores, struggled and
sacrificed to establish themselves. They soon realized the
need to protect the settlements from those who would deprive
them of their lives, and their belongings. Policing was the
responsibility of all able-bodied men.
The job of maintaining order in
the new colonies was given to Justices of the Peace, and one
might see "culprits" in pillories or stocks, paying their
debt to society. As society grew the Justice of the Peace
system was not enough. It became time for an organized, and
paid, police force.
In 1636 the city of Boston established Night Watch, which
idea worked reasonably well as long as the area remained a
rural and agrarian one.
In the almost 100 years between the Revolutionary and Civil
Wars, the more than rapid growth of population and
industrialization in America mandated the development of
municipal police departments. In 1833, Philadelphia
organized an independent, 24 hour a day, police force.
Today's law enforcement agencies and departments are highly
specialized organizations, with ongoing training to prepare
to meet a great variety of problems and situations. The
world, our world, has gotten to be a most dangerous place,
and we all are dependent on peace officers from every
organization for our" life, liberty and the pursuit of
Although the city was
incorporated in 1897, the first records of police activity
in Williston are from the minutes of the City Council in
July 1920. At that time the officer or officers were
referred to as marshals. There is a notation that Marshal
Dick Ricks resigned effective August 5, 1920.
September 7, 1920, S. L. Cox was appointed. Others who
served as marshal or acting marshal during 1920 were: C.O.
Arnold, T.J. Jenkins and J.J. Russell.
No further record shows till 1922 when a Mr. Sinilly was
appointed in February and resigned in March. Several other
men were appointed and served in 1922 including: Neil
McKinnon, F.C. Landrum, and RD. Westbrook.
It is noted that in 1923, W.K Anderson was "elected" marshal
on July 3, 1923. Others continuing to serve were R.D.
Westbrook and F.C. Landrum.
No further activity is recorded until the Council meeting of
July 9, 1930 when Mayor Willis submitted the name of N.E.
Griffin to be appointed marshal; it was voted on and passed.
By the end of the year there was some question as to whether
Mr. Griffin was going to continue on into the next year and
letters were submitted by B.S. Hammock, Mr. Griffin and P.L.
Wiggins concerning the job. On December 8, 1930, a rather
lengthy discussion was held on salary and hours to be worked
by the city marshal. Moved and passed that hours of duty
were to be from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight. Salary would
be $75.00 per month. This was the time when automobiles were
required to have a tag. However the City Council informed
the marshal not to arrest any car owners for not having tags
till after January 15, 1931. With growth in the community it
was recommended that a jail should be built. A proposition
was obtained from L. B. McLeod to build the city jail. The
new jail was located just south of the fire station E.G.
Grimes was appointed marshal. By the end of the year there
were many complaints about cattle roaming the streets and
the fact that marshal Grimes was not doing a good job of
keeping them gathered up and penned. Various young men would
help out with the penning and would be paid so much for each
animal penned up. However many of them being enterprising
would then go turn out the cows and get paid to help round
them up again.
In 1932, Marshal Grimes requested that he be paid $10.00 per
month for the use of his car which was approved. Marshal
Grimes then requested a 2 week paid vacation which was
rejected. During the latter months of 1932, two other men
were approved as part time marshals C.R Nettles and John
Culpepper who worked mostly at night. Mr. Culpepper was
later to become full time city marshal.
C.R. Nettles was appointed and approved as the new Chief or
Marshal of Williston at a salary of $75.00 per month. August
15, 1935. Chief Nettles was changed to day marshal at a
salary of $50.00 per month until a new marshal could be
confirmed by the Council. Perry Wiggins was named as night
||July 14, 1936 Perry L. Wiggins was recommended and
approved for the job of marshal. This appointment
was the beginning of what was to become one of the
longest terms of City Marshal and Police Chief Mr.
Wiggins was one of the most well known and respected
law enforcement officers in the area. Communications
were somewhat limited and it was sometimes difficult
to get in touch with the police. In 1942, Mayor
Fletcher approached the city council and asked that
a special light be installed from the telephone
office over the bell so that the marshal could see
it and know he was needed.
Since Mr. Wiggins had been the only law enforcement
for Williston, it was agreed to raise his salary
from $125.00 per month to $150.00 per month. As
duties and health issues became involved Mr. Wiggins
indicated he would not be able to do any more night
work. In January 1946 it was voted to let Mr.
Wiggins serve as day marshal only at his current
salary of$150.00 per month and a $25.00 per month
car expense for using his own car, also to employ
Randall Clark to serve as night marshal. These
changes were accepted by all and became effective
January 15, 1946.
By 1949 it had become necessary for the City of Williston to
buy a new police car. The low bid was from Hiers Ford
Company for a 6 cylinder two door Ford car at a bid price of
$1398.34. The Chief of Police continued to be Perry Wiggins
with J. Randall Clark as night Chief.
June 16, 1950 bids were received for a new city jail. The
bids were $6,869.00 from Woodrow Fugate and $5,561.50 from
William S. "Sam" McDougall both local contractors. Perry
Wiggins and Randall Clark continue to serve.
||July 11, 1951 indicates a change over in the
Police organization with O.C. Belote a former
Florida Highway Patrolman being named Chief. Randall
Clark continued to serve as night marshal and G.C.
Ledbetter being appointed to the position of Relief
||1951 Ernest "Pete" Smith was appointed and served
until 1956. Other police officers included Corrie F.
Bell and later his temporary replacement Jessie L.
On May 2, 1958, The Miami
Herald published a very favorable report about Williston
Police Department's Mrs. Louise Stringfield the day shift
patrol officer. The report included tales of the good
judgment during a pursuit and inter-agency co-operation.
In 1960, H.A. Perkins was
recommended for Chief with Vernon Macy serving as patrolman.
|Vernon Macy replaced H.A. Perkins as Interim Chief
while the City searched for a permanent one.
||In 1967 Sam L.
Perryman replaced Mr. Macy as
Mr. Macy was later reappointed
Interim Chief and served until Charles Patterson was
|Charles Patterson was appointed in 1973.
In 1975 the first actual police station was
dedicated. The new department moved into a portion
of what was formerly the city jail. Several of the
former cells were removed and office space was made
available for Chief Patterson and radio operator
Wyzansky. Radio service is available with Marion,
Gilchrist and Alachua agencies.
April 10, 1975, the new police
headquarters and fire station were dedicated for the
bicentennial celebration. There were four full time
officers: Chief Patterson, Patrolmen Lee Urquhart, Marvin
"Tom" Thompson and Milton Dwane Lovell. Also there were
three part time officers and a school crossing guard.
Also there were three part time officers and a school
|From 1981-1983 Jimmy Joiner served as Williston's
||(1983-1993) Gene Hartman
During Chief Hartman's Administration, the City
erected the Williston Police and Fire Department
building with eight bays to accommodate a growing
Fire Department. The Police Department inhabited the
North side of the building and included a
professional Evidence Room, Dispatch Center, Offices
and Records Rooms, all of which had been lacking in
the 1975 building.
On July 30, 1988 The Williston Police Department lost its
first officer in the line of duty. Corporal David Wayne Moss
was shot and killed while investigating what looked like a
disabled vehicle. The disabled vehicle that David was
investigating was recently stolen from a home on SW 1st
Avenue and had not been reported as the owner was asleep.
David tracked a dysfunctional young man to the west side of
the high school, where they exchanged gunfire, killing each
other in the process. That year the Police Department
purchased new radios and bullet proof vests for all
officers. Chief Hartman continued to oversee the Department
until he retired in 1993.
||(1994-1997) Olin W. Slaughter
In 1994 Olin Slaughter, a retired Delaware officer,
came to Williston and applied for the Chief's
position. Slaughter commanded the agency for three
Slaughters hallmark was a penchant for training and
career development. He changed the department
uniform to dark blue and altered the vehicle
graphics to improve image.
||Slaughter left in 1997 and ran for Sheriff shortly
thereafter. Bruce Snyder (photo on right) was the
Interim Chief while the City searched for a
|(1998-1999) Joseph Subic Jr
In 1998 Joseph Subic
was tapped for the Chief's position where he
stayed for about 18 months. Subic also was a
"Training Chief" and made efforts to perpetuate
the command staff through training at the Southern
Police Institute. He was asked to leave when he
went over budget. Bruce Snyder again stepped into
the Interim Chief position while a new search was
||He retired in February of 2011 and Clay Connolly
(photo on right) became the Interim
||(2011-2022) Dennis Strow
In August of 2011 Dennis Strow completed a 38 year
career in neighboring Marion County, retired and
came to Williston as Chief. He has shifted the
departments focus to a more community based policing
model. He inherited a shrinking budget due to the
real estate bust that caused the "Great Recession".
The City was experiencing some changes in personnel
that created greater challenges due to a diminished
knowledge base. Chief Strow has diligently tracked
expenditures and made wise purchases aimed at living
within this diminished budget without loss of
service. That tradition continues.
|(2022 - Present) Mike Rolls