Florida chief holds service record
LAWTEY -- Researchers with Guinness World Records say Millard Jordan is the longest-serving police chief in the world. And the 39-year incumbent doesn't plan to let anyone steal that distinction from him anytime soon.
Jordan, 63, is seeking election to another four-year term in the $40,000-a-year post in this rural North Florida town in Bradford County, about halfway between Gainesville and Jacksonville.
He proudly displays the certificate he got proclaiming him a world record holder.
"You know that tingly feeling you get when you're excited?" asked the police chief. "That's what I had as I held the envelope."
Jordan says he plans to stress his experience in his race against challenger Jimmy Smith, a 29-year-old Green Cove Springs officer who learned the job while working for Jordan 10 years back.
"I've been challenged before, but it's never been close," said the police chief. "I treat people right. That's the reason I win. That's the reason I got this award."
"I have a lot of respect for the chief, but his ideas are 40 years old," Smith told the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
It was 1961 when Jordan embarked upon his law enforcement career, about 5 miles to the south in Starke. He got the job as Lawtey's sole officer 14 months later.
For more than 10 years, and through several re-elections, he was on his own. But the town and his department grew, and Jordan also had a hand in setting up Lawtey's volunteer fire department and getting the town's one traffic light put up.
His zeal in enforcing the speed limit through Lawtey also led AAA guidebooks to warn tourists the town is a major speed trap.
That distinction, Jordan says, is undeserved.
"The road runs right next to a school," he said. "We're not unfair, but if people are speeding around there, that can be really dangerous."
Jordan's quest for professional recognition began more than a year ago, with a letter to Guinness.
According to London-based Guinness researcher Kim Lacey, Jordan's claim required careful examination. Area newspapers were searched for clips, and employees past and present and family members were interviewed.
Once the facts were confirmed, the title "longest-serving chief of police" was created especially for Jordan, she said, and will remain his until a more tenured candidate comes along.
"It's an excellent start," Lacey said.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire