BREVARD HISTORY: Flashing Red Light Mounted on Pole Was Main Communication Venue for Titusville Police in 1940s

By  //  March 7, 2020

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If the light was flashing, the patrolman knew he was needed somewhere

LEFT TO RIGHT: Titusville Police Chief W.T. “Dinky” Brown, Verda Blackburn, George Johns, W.J. “Bo” Bohannon, John D. Threlkeld and Robert Green are pictured in the 1950s in front of police headquarters, located within City Hall at 21 Main Street, which is currently the location of Badcock Home Furniture. (Titusville Police image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA • TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA – Law enforcement technology has come a long way since the 1940s when the Titusville Police Department’s main means of communicating with patrol officers was a flashing red light mounted on a tall pole near S. Washington Avenue and Julia Street.

In a recent Facebook post by TPD that included a vintage image of Titusville Police Chief W.T. “Dinky” Brown, Verda Blackburn, George Johns, W.J. “Bo” Bohannon, John D. Threlkeld and Robert Green, historians said that around 1948, TPD officers watched for the flashing red light which could be seen from anywhere between the north and south city limits.

“If the light was flashing, the patrolman knew he was needed somewhere, so he headed to the nearest phone to find out where,” said the TPD post.

“Because there was no switchboard, the officer called the telephone operators who took messages for them.”

Later, as part of an expansion of the department in 1951, a telephone was installed at Cutter’s Drugs at the corner of S. Washington Avenue and Julia Street.

Employees would take messages for the patrolmen and if important they would find the officer and deliver the message. At night after the store closed, the patrolmen would use the phone on the pole again.

“There was very little crime back then, maybe two or three burglaries a month, and very few people bothered to lock the doors to their homes,” said the TPD post.

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Titusville Police Force Under Chief W.T. ‘Dinky’ Brown Numbered Just Eight Officers in 1959

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