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- 2014 - July - 14th -
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50 years ago: City Council delays hiring police officers pending results of survey

Compiled by Max Marbut

For the second time in three weeks, the City Council Police Committee refused to recommend hiring new officers pending release of a study of the police department begun in January.

The reason for the delay was the study might show that hiring any more officers was “superfluous,” said council members R. Lavern Reynolds and R.B Burroughs.

Inspector E.F. Allen, who attended the committee meeting, said the department’s uniformed patrol strength had been below par for the past three years.

The survey was begun in January by a division of the International Association of Chiefs of Police under an appropriation of $23,800. The survey of the department was recommended by a special citizens committee on law enforcement.

Allen said the council’s approval of hiring two patrolmen was requested to fill vacancies in the ranks.

Reynolds said the two replacements should not be made until the police survey was at least presented to council so members could determine if the jobs needed to be filled.

At the time the survey was launched, John Ingersoll, assistant director of field services for IACP, said the job would take about six months.

• The Aug. 4 freeholder referendum on whether to authorize the Duval County Hospital Authority to issue up to $20 million in bonds for a new county hospital was described as the first step in a long-range plan to convert Duval Medical Center into a major health care complex.

At stake in the vote, which was open to registered elector-property owners in Duval County including Baldwin, the Beaches and unincorporated areas, was whether to permit the authority to spend 1.5 mills of taxation to pay off the bond issue.

The bonds would allow construction of a 750-bed hospital next to the existing medical center and a 50-bed receiving hospital that would connect the new hospital with the present building, according to Michael J. Wood, executive director.

The long-range plan envisioned teaching, research and library facilities; dormitories and apartments for hospital staff members; a rehabilitation center; expansion of the hospital’s auxiliary power system; large parking areas and a multistory parking garage; a landing pad for a helicopter; and a motel.

• Four admitted members of the Ku Klux Klan who drew mistrials on July 5 on charges of dynamiting the home of a young black student who had integrated a white elementary school would go on trial again in September, said William J. Hamilton Jr., assistant U.S. district attorney.

The government wanted to bring the defendants back to court as soon as possible, he said.

Hamilton noted the criminal calendar for July had been filled before the first trial, that August was a vacation month for the courts and lawyers, and that September offered the earliest opportunity to a re-trial.

• There was a dent the size of a quarter in Jacksonville motorcycle Patrolman Walter K. Butler’s helmet, but he was going to continue to use it anyway.

“That’s my good luck piece from now on,” he said.

Butler was injured in the line of duty on July 5 when his motorcycle crashed into the rear of a compact car at more than 70 mph.

Butler was thrown from his bike – “Straight up, thank God,” he said – and fell to the ground on his head, according to witnesses. He credited the helmet with saving his life.

“I have to believe the witnesses. I don’t remember a thing except seeing that car swerve in front of me,” said Butler. “Then I remember lying on the grass looking at a bunch of people talking.”

Butler said nothing to his rescuers and didn’t remember the ambulance speeding him to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he remained for four days.

He had 10 stitches in his right knee and the left was stiff and scarred. His right elbow was bandaged, but Butler said he had no idea how it had been injured.

After Butler was released, he went back home to Lake Forest Hills to join his wife, two daughters and a son who kept jumping on him, forgetting or not understanding his father’s injury.

• Arlington Road South between Beach Boulevard and Antigua Road got a new name: Grove Park Boulevard.

The Board of County Commissioners renamed the road on the motion of Commissioner Bob Harris after a hearing where nobody opposed the move.

Harris submitted a petition signed by 48 residents along the road asking for the change.

The petition said the name Arlington Road South was very misleading to people trying to locate the street “as it can no way be seen as an extension of Arlington Road.”

The petition further stated the Post Office Department was continually misdirecting mail for residents of Arlington Road South to the Arlington Post Office, which redirected it to the Zone 6 Post Office along Beach Boulevard causing delayed delivery of mail.

Also on motion of Harris, the board approved installation of signs along Seminole Beach to inform the public it was against the law to dump trash and broken bottles on the sand.

Harris said he had conferred with County Solicitor Edward Booth on the matter and Booth informed him the offense was punishable by a $100 fine or six months in jail.

• The Beaches United Fund campaign, traditionally the first in the Jacksonville area to begin solicitations each year, got rolling with the plea: “Set the pace for the rest of us to follow.”

That was the message delivered by General Campaign Chairman Charles Towers Jr. to more than 100 Beaches campaign leaders at the Sea Turtle Restaurant in Atlantic Beach.

“Set us a good example. Show us your belief in this crusade and your inspiration will make success easier for all of us,” he said.

Towers, who it was noted had been a summer resident of Atlantic Beach for many years, pointed out that at least one United Community Services agency was very much on display at the shore community.

He referred to the Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps, whose lifeguards had been protecting bathers for more than 50 years.

“The corps has saved many people from certain death in the seas,” said Towers.

• Four people were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard from a disabled vessel off Fernandina Beach after a Jacksonville police officer swam more than a mile through rough seas to summon help. Detective Sgt. C.I. Beasley of the General Assignment Detective Division, a passenger on the boat, suffered no ill effects of his long swim, even though he collapsed exhausted on American Beach near Fernandina.

The other four people on the boat were returned to Mayport aboard the Coast Guard’s 82-foot patrol boat Point Roberts.

Gary Blackwell, the owner of the disabled 21-foot inboard-outboard boat, said the vessel broke down while the group was fishing.

When it began to drift out to sea, Blackwell’s 19-year-old son, Ronnie, immediately went into the water wearing a life preserver in an attempt to swim to shore to get help. He had to return to the boat after being stung by jellyfish.

About an hour later and as the vessel continued to drift out to sea, Beasley, who had no life preserver, dived over the side and swam for an hour before stumbling up on the beach. A Nassau County deputy sheriff on duty there called his office, which radioed the Duval County Patrol.

The patrol contacted the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. The Coast Guard dispatched the Point Roberts and the Navy sent a rescue helicopter from Cecil Field Naval Air Station.

“We tried to make him come back, but he just laughed at us and kept swimming,” Blackwell said of Beasley’s actions. “At times, he would disappear and we thought we had lost him,”

• Harry Brinton, director of Jacksonville’s public libraries, reported that 82,818 titles were checked out in June from the Main Library and the eight branch libraries.

It was an increase of 13,273 over the total for May, but a decrease of 6,574 in comparison with June 1963.

Brinton said 55,116 Jacksonville residents held library cards, an increase of 614 patrons during the year. County residents held 3,132 cards.

On the personal service side, Brinton said reference librarians answered 26,342 questions posed by residents of the area.

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