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published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
SPD marking 100th year
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- This afternoon, from 3:45-6 p.m., the police department is hosting an open house at its station, 307 N. Ridgewood Drive. The occasion is a celebration of the department's 100th birthday. Everyone is warmly welcomed, Police Chief Tom Dettman said. He wants city residents and his officers to get to know each other better.
Things have changed dramatically since the beginning. In 1913, as the town rose up out of the sand, founder George Sebring saw the need for law and order. Aaron Withers was hired as town marshall to keep the peace. He served only one year. In fact, six town marshals cycled through Sebring between 1914 and 1924 -- three alone in 1916.
Being a peace office cannot have been easy. The town boomed into existence with a mix of growers, cowboys, adventurers, tourists, retired clergymen and entrepreneurs sniffing for a deal. Rough men came through town looking for work, moonshine was a problem, and the rule of law tenuous out in the scrubs.
More and more people came seeking their fortune. Between 1920 and 1926 the town's population grew from an estimated 900 to more than 7,000 -- too big for a single marshal to manage. A police department was created and William "Lotus" McCullough was hired as its first police chief. Nine men have served in the position in the 88 years since.
James Hancock held the job the longest -- for 22 years, from 1936 to 1958.
Dettman has served since 1998, putting him in second place and with a shot at the longevity record.
Between 1913 and 2013, Sebring's law enforcement grew from one man to a professionally trained force of 34 sworn law officers.
Dettman is very proud of those men and women. "The average age (of a Sebring police officer in 2013) is 40.9 years," he said. "On average they have 13.7 years of law enforcement experience, and an average of 11.5 years working in Sebring. It shows we have a stable, mature, experienced law enforcement agency. Come out and meet them."
Hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be served following a 4:30 p.m. ceremony to honor officers killed in the line of duty. Sworn officers will renew their Oaths of Honor.
Dettman said the evening celebrates history as well as the present.
For that reason, many retired police officers have been invited, and those who have moved on to other agencies too. "As many as we could contact," he said. It gives everyone a chance to get together, old and new.
Dettman hopes residents turn out in numbers in friendly support.
(by: Blindman~ - 5/15/2013)
Hail to Sebring's Finest~
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