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New blue for the blue

It’s only fitting that the men and women in blue should have blue offices.

In this case, very blue..

“It’s definitely blue, I didn’t get to pick the colors,” said newly hired Port St. Joe Police Chief Jake Richards, just three weeks on the job.

The chief's office
The badge is back on the wall
Nice wooden floors

He and his staff of eight fulltime officers have now moved into a permanent home, out of office space on the top floor of the Gulf County Courthouse, leased to the state attorney’s offices, and into totally remodeled offices attached to the side of the Port St. Joe City Hall at 410 Williams Avenue.

“It’s totally remodeled, with new furniture, and a nice place,” said Richards. “We spent 16 hours over the last weekend moving back in down here. Over the weekend me and the guys got together and moved everything we had at the courthouse back in.

“We moved all our computers back down, and we moved our temporarily built evidence room,” he said.

Inside the Port St. Joe police department

“It’s much more convenient, like being back at home, after someone’s living in an RV for a year waiting on the insurance company to replace their house,” Richards said. “This for us is like being at home.”

It’s been two years since a foot-and-one-half of water, mud and muck from Hurricane Michael flooded into the police department.

Inside the department

“The storm surge pushed in our back door, we lost almost everything,” he said. “If we didn’t have it with us we lost it. We had taken most of that stuff or put it up on a desk. Everything that was protected we took with us.”

The department managed to save its criminal files and its personnel records, and one of those personnel records had to be updated Oct. 1, when Richards, 42, moved up from lieutenant to the top job.

After a dozen years with the department, City Manager Jim Anderson chose Richards to succeed Chief Matt Herring, who left to replace the retiring Marshall Nelson as head of the county’s emergency management office,

Following a search that drew applicants from as far as Texas, Virginia and Georgia, Anderson interviewed about a half-dozen finalists before settling on Richards.

“There’s not going to be a whole lot of changes,” said Richards. “Part of chief Herring’s administration was a smooth transition like nothing ever happened. I don’t plan like doing anything wild and crazy.”

Money for the rehab mostly came from insurance monies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with a smaller slice coming out of the police department’s budget.

New to the staff is Officer Richard Nichols, hired by Herring a couple months ago. Plus the department has a pair of new Ford F-150 responder trucks, paid entirely out of grant funds.

To reach the department for business calls, dial 227-1414. To get a police officer, call 229-8265.