Davenport Police Department History

Davenport Police Department Statistics
The City of Davenport Police Department was founded in 1915. It is located in northeast Polk County roughly twenty (20) miles southwest of Orlando. The Department's jurisdiction covers a total area of approximately five (5) square miles. Within the last few years, the City's population has steadily grown from 4,946 residents to approximately 11,000 residents and continues to rapidly grow with the increase of new home developments within the City’s limits. 


Davenport Police Department History


The following is an excerpt from "The Heritage Trail from Horse Creek to Davenport" by Judith Torgersen Thompson:

  • "Before Davenport became an unincorporated town, the federal government appointed T.J. McKnight to be the first Marshal of Davenport. After 1918, a series of men served as Marshal..."


The following is an excerpt from "The Davenport Story" by Clarence C. Meyer and Phyllis A. McGill:

  • "The City Hall, built in 1927, houses the administrative staff, the Police Department, and the Council Chambers. When the Town government was formed in 1915, the Marshal and Treasurer-Clerk were its only two employees. For many years the staff remained small, with the Chief of Police and the Town Clerk the only permanent employees. 
  • Although conditions had improved by June, 1956, when Bethel Judy was appointed Chief of Police, he was still on call, as were his predecessors, twenty-four hours a day. He did have one deputy to assist him, however. Bethel and his wife, Lillie, lived in the police apartment above the City Hall offices. She alerted him if an urgent call came in by turning on a light atop the flagpole that was visible from any area in town. Mrs. Judy was also paid a small sum to feed the prisoners. There were three cells. One was downstairs under the station and two were outside the station proper. Once, a prisoner decided it was time to return to his wife and children, and he made off in the middle of the night. But he left a note of apology, saying, 'I hate to have to leave. The meals are real good!'
  • ...There was no building for the fire department, and the firefighters were all volunteers, including the Fire Chief and the Secretary. The fire truck was parked behind the Police Station. Many a night the Chief was awakened by a fire call and to expediate matters, ended up driving the fire truck himself. The Chief was also in charge of keeping the Water Works system operating and the streets in driving condition. For the most part, he used local prison labor in lieu of fine payment. In 1963, a street foreman was hired to take over this function."


Marshals & Police Chiefs of Davenport


T.J. McKnight, Marshal, 1915-1918 (full-time), 1920-1921 (part-time)

  • "T.J. came to Davenport with his wife, Jonnie Amy Mitchell, in 1906. They had four children: Marie Jenette,...Jimmy, Louis and Amy. T.J. McKnight came from Lakeland where he owned a block of buildings across from Munn Park to Davenport to work with the Parrish Turpentine Company. When the turpentine industry closed, he worked in the grove developing business and planted some of the first groves in the area. Later, he maintained the greens and fairways on the Holly Hill Golf Course. He was Davenport's first Marshal. Mr. and Mrs. T.J. McKnight were charter members of the Davenport Baptist Church in 1926."

     (* Excerpt from "The Heritage Trail from Horse Creek to Davenport")


L.G. Kimler, Marshal, 1919-1920, 1934-1937


O.I. Lenfers, Marshal (part-time), 1920-1921


W.S. Ingram, Marshal, 1921-1922


Fred Kimler, Marshal, 1922-1923


Fred Mincey, Marshal, 1923-1924


L.H. Roehlk, Marshal, 1927-1933


J.A. Kirkland, Marshal, 1938-1942


Walter Wilkes, Marshal, 1943-1952; Police Chief, 1952-1956

  • Wilkes and his wife Bonnie had a home on Maple Street but lived in the apartment above City Hall during his tenure as Davenport's top cop.


Bethel Judy, Police Chief, 1956-1965, 1968

  •  "Lillie (Mae Hicks) married Bethel Judy in Polk City, Florida, on July 16, 1939. Their son, Roger, was born in 1940 and daughter, Nell, in 1941. In 1943 the family moved to Haines City. Bethel worked in the citrus groves, and Lillie worked in the canning plant. They moved to Davenport in 1950 where Bethel worked in the sand mines. Lillie continued to work in the canning plant. Bethel joined the Davenport Police Department in 1953 and became the Police Chief in 1956 when Walter Wilkes resigned.
  • He resigned his position as Chief of Police in 1969. He served on the Town Council and as a volunteer fireman for many years. During this time, the family lived over the City Hall. They answered the telephone after City Hall closed, blew the fire whistle for emergencies and cooked meals for prisoners. In the early days they would turn on the light located at the top of a pole above the police station to summon officers...
  • Lillie served on the Town Council and was Mayor in 1973. Bethel and Lillie loved Davenport's small-town atmosphere. People were friendly and good neighbors. They also loved all the kids in Davenport and Loughman and were willing to do all they could to help anyone in need. Together they enjoyed keeping their yard and flowers beautiful."

     (*Excerpt from "The Heritage Trail from Horse Creek to Davenport")


Edward Johnson, Police Chief, 1966-1967


C.W. McMullen, Police Chief, 1969


Garland Moore, Police Chief, 1970-1973


Larry Johnson, Police Chief, 1974-1977


Arlos Dodson, Police Chief, 1978


Thomas "Tom" Rademacher, Police Chief, 1979-1992

  • Thomas Fredrick Rademacher was born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, before moving south with his family and graduating from Sarasota High School in 1960.
  • Rademacher became a police officer with the Lake Alfred Police Department in 1965 before elevating to Lake Alfred's Police Chief from 1967 to 1977. Rademacher was named Chief of Police for Davenport in 1977 where he remained until 1993. He was then named Police Chief for the Bowling Green Police Department before ending his career in law enforcement.
  • Rademacher was a lifetime member of the Polk County Police Chief's Association and a Life Member of the Florida Police Chief's Association. He was a member of the Lake Alfred Lions Club and volunteered with the Guardian Ad Litem Program in Osceola County.


H.B. "Rob" Robinson, III, Police Chief, 1992-1999

  • H.B. "Rob" Robinson, III, grew up on a small farm outside of Gainesville before moving to South Florida, where he attended Miami Edison Senior High School. Robinson joined the United States Army where he served as a member of the Military Police in the Panama Canal Zone from 1961 to 1964.
  • Robinson served with the City of North Miami Police Department for nearly 30 years before retiring as Major in 1992. He then assumed the helm as Davenport's Chief of Police. During his tenure as Chief, Davenport received the 1997 Rural Community of the Year from the Governor's Office for the successful initiation of and involvement in a joint City/County Community Policing Program.
  • Robinson holds an associate of arts degree from Miami Dade College and a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration from Florida International University. He is also a 1981 graduate of the 125th Session of the FBI National Academy.
  • In addition to his tenure as Police Chief, Robinson has also served Davenport as Interim City Manager, Assistant City Manager, City Commissioner and Mayor. He has also served as Interim City Manager for the City of Dundee and as President of the Ridge League of Cities.
  • Robinson has been married to his wife, Linda, for more than 50 years. They have two children, Jeffrey Scott  and Corrie Lynn, as well as four grandchildren. Robinson is a member of the First Baptist Church of Davenport where he serves as a deacon.


Charles Clements, Police Chief, 1999-2012

  • Charles Clements spent a decade at the Polk County Sheriff's Office before returning to his roots and taking over as Police Chief in his hometown. Clements didn't start his law enforcement career until he was 40 and retired as Davenport's Police Chief in the summer of 2012.
  • Clements was voted a life member of the Polk County Police Chiefs' Association.


Larry Holden, Police Chief, 2013-2022

  • Larry Holden brought 18 years of law enforcement experience with him when he was appointed Police Chief.  Holden is a graduate of Lake Wales High School. He then spent six years in the United States Army before joining the Florida National Guard, where he became interested in law enforcement. He is a graduate of Polk State College's police academy. Prior to his selection as police chief, Holden spent time as an officer with the police departments in Lake Wales, Davenport and Winter Haven.


Steve Parker, Police Chief, 2022-Present

  • Steve Parker assumed the helm as Police Chief in Davenport after more than 30 years of law enforcement experience in Polk County. The lifelong Polk County resident graduated from Fort Meade High School before enlisting in the United States Air Force. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned home and began his career in law enforcement in 1986 with the Bartow Police Department. Parker later joined the Fort Meade Police Department, where he remained with the agency until the department merged with the Sheriff's Office.
  • Parker began his tenure with the Sheriff's Office as a patrol deputy as he began his climb up the ranks. He was selected as a homicide detective in 2009. Parker was promoted to sergeant by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in 2013 and was assigned with overseeing the law enforcement operations within Frostproof.
  • Parker was promoted to lieutenant in 2016 and then served as a patrol platoon commander in the Safe Schools Division. He then managed the PCSO's Echo Platoon in the Southeast District, which included 49 multi-level sworn and civilian members.
  • Parker holds a masters of business administration/criminal justice degree from Southeastern University, as well as a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia Southern University. He is also a graduate of Florida State University's State of Florida Certified Public Manager program. Most recently, Parker graduated from the School of Police Staff and Command, 502nd Class, at Northwestern University in 2021.
  • Parker and his wife, Donna, have been married for 39 years and have four children.