End of Watch

An excerpt from Mike Simmons’ book “Pensacola’s Finest,” available on Amazon

Nothing lets the wind out of the sails of a department like the death of one of its own. A whole department of officers cannot handle the problem. There is nothing to be done, except grieve.

However, most departments can give a send-off second-to-none! Uniforms, formation, salutes, flags, rifles, bagpipes, bugles, escorts, there is nothing like it. Seldom have I ever seen a dry eye when the last call is given.  Here is how it works:

At the gravesite, the words are spoken over the casket, the flag is folded and presented to the family, the rifle salute is conducted, bagpipes are played, and Taps are played by the bugler. Then, every officer who has their police radio on turns it up for all to hear. On the main radio channel where all officers are listening, the dispatcher calls the number of the officer, as if calling him to respond to a call.

“Unit 45?” No answer.

A second call “Unit 45?” No answer.

A third call “Headquarters to Unit 45?” Still no answer.

 “Unit 45 is 10-7 (finished for duty). May you rest in peace. We have the watch.”

Something unforgettable to witness.

February 26 is a sad day in the history of the Pensacola Police Department. We lost two of our own on this day – in 1938 and in 1997…

Officer Clinton Green

End of Watch: Officer Clinton Augustus Green: February 26, 1938

He was born in Butler County, Alabama, near Greenville.  When he was twenty years old, he decided that he wanted to get away, so he moved to Pensacola and became a deputy sheriff.  After proving that he was a quality officer, he was hired as a Constable in District 2.  Soon, he heard about and applied for the position of detective with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.  Then, at age 34, he was hired as a Pensacola Police Officer.  In 1937, he again proved himself and was promoted to Motorcycle officer. 

He was known as a gentlemanly officer.  In early February 1938, Officer Green heard about the young 6-year old girl in Pensacola Hospital who was dying of leukemia and needed blood.  He immediately volunteered and donated. 

On Saturday afternoon, February 26, 1938, Officer Green was working on his police motorcycle at his home when he received a call about a fire on Lee Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.  Incidentally, the fire call was less than a block from his house at 1410 N. Eighth Avenue.  He responded on his motorcycle.  After finishing with the call, he left, heading west on Blount Street.  J. W. Alford, an employee with Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, lived at 1011 East Jackson Street.  Mr. Alford was driving East on Blount Street when he turned left onto Hayne Street.  However, either he didn’t look for oncoming traffic or he failed to see Officer Green heading West.  His vehicle collided with Officer Green’s motorcycle.  Witnesses said that the policeman hit Alford’s windshield and flew over the car.  Besides a badly cut neck and internal injuries, he suffered from a fractured skull.  He never regained consciousness.  At 6:55 PM, Officer C. A. Green died from his injuries.

Officer Green left behind a wife, one son and four daughters.  Funeral services were conducted Sunday afternoon, February 27 in his home.  Reverend Chester S. Hunnicutt delivered the eulogy and brother officers served as pallbearers.  The burial took place in Clopton Cemetery at Davis Highway and Selina Street.

A quickly assembled coroner’s jury went to the scene of the accident and determined that Alford apparently swerved into Officer Green’s path thereby causing his death. He was arrested on one count of manslaughter and turned over to county authorities where he was released on a $1,500 bond.

Officer Rowe Austraw

End of Watch: Glenn Rowe Austraw: February 26, 1997

George Stone Criminal Justice Training Center is located 9.4 miles from the Pensacola Police Department.  It is the official training center for Corrections and Law Enforcement for the State of Florida Region One – the Pensacola area.  Most of the department’s training is held there.  That is what Rowe Austraw was doing on Wednesday, February 26, 1997, driving to a class.    

Rowe was a very intelligent, likeable young man.  Everyone wanted to be around him.  He had a confidence about him that gave the impression he had more years than he did.  He had only been on the force for a year.  Even though the class he was taking on February 26 was required, Rowe was anxious to take more training, to learn more.  He had quite a future ahead of him. 

Officer Rowe Austraw, still in uniform from working his shift, was driving his personal vehicle along Interstate 10 toward Pine Forest Road, the best route to the school.  Before he got to the exit, a tractor-trailer suddenly changed lanes in front of him, causing his truck to flip over several times in the median.  The tractor-trailer fled the scene and was never apprehended.  Rowe was pronounced dead at the scene. 

            Officer Austraw was survived by his expectant wife and his young son.  His wife later gave birth to his daughter, born on his birthday.

February 26 – what a day.

#oldpolicestories #pensacolasfinest

Published by Mike Simmons

I am a retired sergeant with the Pensacola Police Department. I currently work as a coordinator at the George Stone Criminal Justice Training Center. I am married to the former Jerri Crabtree. We have three grown children and seven grandchildren. I volunteer with a boys' mentoring program known as "Royal Rangers."

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