1945: Clearwater will try 'shoot first' tactic
By THERESA BLACKWELL
Published March 4, 2007
MARCH 3, 1945
CLEARWATER - In a drastic move to stop one of the most serious crime waves in Clearwater history, police Chief John Swift last night instructed his 17-man force to "shoot first and ask questions later" if they encounter suspicious prowlers late at night or during the early morning hours within the business area.
"We realize the gravity of the situation," Chief Swift said, as he studied reports of three new burglaries, "but my force is working under the same handicap of other police departments - shortage of manpower. I have barely enough men to form three shifts and doubling up on the night relief is out of the question."
Chief Swift pointed out that several officers recently added to the department are veterans of large northern cities and that he was well satisfied with what the new men are doing. With the "shoot first" order in effect, he said, notice will be served on prowlers and store burglars that they cannot expect an even break if they encounter officers anywhere in the downtown section.
"I believe these robberies are the work of hardened criminals," the chief explained. "So I don't intend to have any of my men hurt in attempting to fight it out with desperate lawbreakers."
MARCH 5, 1945
Army deserter turned over to MPs in Tampa
CLEARWATER - While searching for suspects in the recent theft of a purse from an elderly tourist, city police early Saturday night picked up an army deserter in the downtown business section. The soldier, wearing the uniform, had been absent without leave from a Texas camp since last November. He was turned over to military police from the Tampa area.
MARCH 6, 1945
DAV resolutions will endorse rest camps
CLEARWATER - Resolutions will be offered tomorrow night at a meeting of Clearwater chapter, Disabled American Veterans, for the group's endorsement of the proposed use of state parks and game preserves as rest camps for returned veterans who are discharged as a result of battle strain. Commander Roy F. Mains will outline the program to the chapter.
MARCH 6, 1945
Elder Swift in hospital with heart ailment
DUNEDIN - Charles A. Swift, 75, a pioneer resident of Clearwater and the father of police Chief John Swift, was admitted to Mease hospital at Dunedin last night suffering from an acute heart ailment. He is attended by Dr. Raymond H. Center and his condition was described as serious.
MARCH 6, 1945
Toothpaste tubes will be diverted to troops
CLEARWATER - Local druggists have been advised by salesmen for wholesale firms that toothpaste in tubes may disappear entirely before the beginning of summer. The reason, they said, was the heavy use of tubes to pack all sorts of ointments and other supplies issued to troops before embarkation to battle zones. The GI issues include a special ointment to be used in gas attacks. According to the drug salesmen, each soldier gets five tubes - with the result that nearly all dental cleaners soon will consist of powders or liquids packed in cardboard cartons or glass bottles.
Pinellas History is compiled by Times staff writer Theresa Blackwell. She can be reached at 727 445-4170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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