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Florida Peace Officers School Collection

 Collection — Box: 1813
Identifier: MSS 2006-006

Scope and Contents

The Florida Peace Officers School Collection documents a law enforcement instructional program held at Camp Foster in 1934. It contains addresses delivered by State Attorney and Manatee County local historian Dewey Dye, Vernon Hawthorne, State Attorney of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida; Fred H. Davis, Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, and Cary D. Landis, Florida Attorney General, on such topics as the cost of crime, martial law, crime detection, and the powers and duties of peace officers under Florida law; an example of a felony report used for training purposes, and a reprint of an article about the work of state police. The collection is significant to researchers studying early 20th Century Florida law enforcement history.


  • Created: 1934

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to the Florida State University Libraries. All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

According to Jacksonville (FL) librarian and historian Glenn Emery, the Florida Peace Officers School was located in Duval County, just outside Jacksonville (Florida). National Guardsmen established a base there in 1909. During World War I, the site became Camp Johnston, a major training center for Army quartermasters. Camp Johnston was a complex that contained over 600 buildings and was the nation's second largest rifle range. Following the end of World War I in 1919, the National Guard returned, changing the base's name to Camp Foster, named after Joseph Clifford Reed Foster, one of Florida's Adjutant Generals. Inadequate federal funding during the Great Depression resulted in the Guard's abandonment of Camp Foster. During that time, many transient men from Northern states, according to Emery, relocated to this area, "seeking warm weather and sometimes work." The mayor of Jacksonville gave these men three choices: return home, suffer internment in the city prison farm, or live at a new work facility at Camp Foster. Established in 1932, the labor encampment occupied the former National Guard reservation and rifle range. In downtown Jacksonville, the police and the Salvation Army directed homeless men to Hemming Park, where a truck picked them up twice a day and carried them to Camp Foster.

The work camp at Camp Foster was the first of its kind in Florida, and served as the forerunner of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps. It was financed by the federal government and operated by the Duval County Emergency Relief Council. According to a 1939 federal government interview with local Jacksonville leader John P. Ingle, the occupants of Camp Foster included college men from university and technical institutions, who were appointed as teachers to groups forming classes in electrical work and other mechanical trades; artists and painters, who organized classes, cooks, laundrymen, and bakers. There were classes in English and those conducted in foreign languages, particularly French and German. Arrangements were made with the Jacksonville Public Library to supply books for the men to read. When the facility was closed in 1935, many homeless men had been able to establish permanent residence in Duval County and became certified for employment under the WPA. Others were able to return to their former homes in the North.

Robert Hawk, in "Florida's Army: Militia, State Troops, and National Guard, 1565-1985," noted that despite the closing of Camp Foster as a National Guard facility during the Great Depression, the Guard was used for state active duty many times. For example, it helped bring relief and order to storm-ravaged areas of Florida in 1928, 1933, and 1935. It helped protect jails and catch escaped Incarcerated people in 1932 and 1935 and quell a prison riot in 1933. Because of these events, a training program for peace, i.e., riot control and setting up temporary government services after disasters, was initiated during that time. According to Pamela Gibson, historian and Florida History Room librarian at the Manatee (FL) Public Library, this may have been the purpose of creating the Florida Peace Officers School.

On July 11, 1934, the Governor's Ball, considered the social highlight of the Guard's two-week summer camp at Camp Foster, was held in the Officers' Club. Florida Governor Dave Sholtz attended. During that time, Florida's first Peace Officers School convened at the Camp with 144 lawmen. Classes were held on arrest techniques, fingerprinting, and various legal subjects. It cannot be determined if subsequent Peace Officer Schools were held after that date. In 1939, following the conversion of Camp Foster in Jacksonville from a National Guard Post into the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, the National Guard relocated to Camp Blanding (FL).


0.10 Linear Feet (3 Folders)

Language of Materials


Method of Acquisition

Donor cannot be determined.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Processing Information

Processed by Burt Altman in March 2006.

Florida Peace Officers School Collection
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US