The Largo Police Department was officially created by charter in 1924, staffed by Chief A.S. Smith and one patrolman. The population at the time was about 600 citizens for the one-square-mile city. In the 1930’s town manager Finley McMullen, of the founding McMullen family, served as an interim police chief. By 1948, the first Largo police car was purchased. Previously, officers drove their personal cars and were reimbursed for their use. The police force consisted of Chief Ted Watson and two officers in 1949.
In 1952, Chief Charles Wetmore was hired to run the six-officer department. Circa 1955, the city limits encompassed three square miles. In 1957, a second police car purchased and LPD equipped both cruisers with two-way radios operating on two frequencies. The one-room police station was upgraded in 1959 and by 1963, a new station was built.
At Chief Wetmore’s retirement in 1966, he was supervising 32 employees, to include the chief, a lieutenant, four sergeants, a desk sergeant, two records clerks, nine patrolmen, a security patrolman, six school patrolmen, and seven special policemen. Largo was now 10 square miles. The department had five marked cruisers and one unmarked car.
K9 King was purchased as Largo’s first police dog in 1973. A second dog, K9 Rex, was added the next year.
In 1975, LPD hired its first African American officer, Curtis McCoy, followed the next year by Ofc. Michelle Davis. By 1976, the Largo Police Department had an authorized strength of 55 sworn officers and 18 civilians, 27 police cruisers, and two K9 dogs. The city had grown to 13 square miles with a population of 50,000 people. The new police administration building at 100 East Bay Drive was built that year. In 1981, the department started its SWAT Team, called the T.A.C. Team for Tactical Apprehension and Control. Additionally, the Traffic Safety Unit was formed to provide education and enforcement on the city’s growing roadways.
In 1998, LPD purchased a forty-foot Blue Bird bus that was customized to become our Mobile Command Vehicle for the agency. It has seen duty in numerous homicide and traffic investigations, parades, special events, multi-jurisdictional operations, and training. It certainly earned its stripes serving as a mobile command platform and home-away-from-home for our officers who were sent to Punta Gorda for Hurricane Charley (2004) and Jackson County for Hurricane Michael (2018). It is still in our fleet.
In 2000, LPD vacated its headquarters at 100 East Bay Drive and moved to a larger building at the present station location of 201 Highland Ave NE, which was formerly the annex to an insurance company. The two-story structure provides a better use of space than the old one and is adjacent to City Hall, which took over the main insurance company building.
The Largo Police Department currently has an authorized sworn strength of 159 officers and 60 civilians as support staff. The annual budget is more than $30 million. The department is a State- and Nationally-Accredited agency, achieving these with official distinction. LPD holds accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) as a Flagship Agency and Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Agencies (CFA) at the Excelsior level.
Chief Undestad and Largo PD patrol officers post-Hurricane Irma.
To better serve our City and citizens, the Largo Police Department fields a number of specialized units to include:
- T.A.C. Team—Assault, Snipers, MRAP, Humvee, robot
- Crisis Negotiations Team
- Traffic Safety Unit and Traffic Homicide Investigations
- Investigative Services Section—Crimes Against Persons, Crimes Against Property detectives
- Special Operations Unit—Vice, Narcotics, and Special Investigations
- K9 Unit—Four Dog and Handler teams cross-trained in Patrol, Narcotics Detection, and SWAT
- Problem-Oriented Policing Unit—Mental Health, Crime Prevention, and Senior Services
- Special Incident Response Team (SIRT)—Mobile Field Force, Special Assignments
- Volunteers in Policing—talented VIP’s support all areas of the Police Department
Every sworn officer, civilian staff member, and volunteer in our department is committed to providing responsive and professional service to the residents of Largo, a commitment backed by our Department’s mission statement: To join with our community to solve problems and reduce crime and the fear of crime.