History of the Sheriffs of Charlotte County
J. H. LipscombDemocrat
Charlotte County's first sheriff was James H. Lipscomb, a school teacher, former town marshal and long-time member of the local Masonic Lodge.
Governor Hardee appointed J. H. Lipscomb the first Charlotte County Sheriff on May 4, 1921.
A 1920 news report of the arrests made in a single month gives an example of the types of crimes the county's first sheriff would have to face.
In an area twice as large as Charlotte County is now, the sheriff made 37 arrests. Drunkenness, gambling and bootlegging moonshine accounted for 13 of them.
Beginning of the
Charlotte County Sheriff's Office
Arthur F. "Fred" Quednau, a Punta Gorda native, defeated Sheriff J.H. Lipscomb in the 1940 election.
Sheriff Quednau had a force of two deputies - Travis Parnell and Ira Atkinson.
Besides being sheriff, Quednau owned a charter boat business and a diner. Many knew him as "Captain Fred."
Sheriff Quednau’s daughter, Tosie Hindman went on to be the Supervisor of Elections for Charlotte
County for 22 years, and his Grandson Fred Hindman following in his grandfather’s footsteps
retiring as a Captain for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in 2001.
After 16 years in office, in 1957 Sheriff Quednau decided not to seek re-election. His former deputy Travis Parnell succeeded him in office.
Travis Parnell, Sheriff Fred Quednau's Chief Deputy and former jailer, ran against Quednau's other deputy, Ira Atkinson in 1957 when Sheriff Quednau decided not to seek re-election. Parnell won by 304 votes, a near landslide in a race in which 2,390 people voted.
Parnell was a butcher before he and his wife became the county jailers. The couple lived in an apartment in the courthouse. He locked up the prisoners, and his wife cooked the meals.
One of the biggest crimes to occur during Parnell's term as sheriff happened on July 18, 1963 -- an attempted jail break.
By 1965, the county's population had grown to 12,000. The Sheriff's budget had grown to $146,200, including a salary of $9,000 for the sheriff. However, after serving two terms in office, Sheriff Parnell was defeated in the 1964 election.
Richard A. StickleyRepublican
Richard Stickley was a former South Bend, Indiana, cop who retired to El Jobean. In 1964, he ran for sheriff against Sheriff Travis Parnell. The vote from an influx of northerners allowed Stickley to become the first Republican to be elected sheriff in Charlotte County.
However, only 18 months after he took office, in July 1966, a Charlotte County Grand Jury "indicted" Stickley on 10 criminal charges. Many of the charges were either dropped or dismissed prior to the trial. Stickley was acquitted of the remaining charges during the trial. By the time he was cleared, however, his term as sheriff had expired.
John P. ShannonDemocrat
John P. Shannon, a former Chicago motorcycle cop, was working as the Chief Deputy for Sheriff Richard Stickley when Stickley was indicted and removed from office by the governor in 1966.
According to the Charlotte Herald newspaper, Shannon received a telegram from Gov. Hayden Burns that said: "This is to authorize you to take over the responsibilities of Sheriff Richard Stickley who I suspend today until I have time to consider this matter."
A month later, Burns replaced Shannon by appointing David Deegan as sheriff.
In 1966 Governor Hayden Burns appointed David Deegan, a local real estate salesman, as sheriff when Sheriff Richard Stickley was indicted on criminal charges by a Grand Jury. Deegan succeeded Sheriff John P. Shannon, who served as sheriff for about a month after Stickley was removed from office.
Deegan had served as Governor Burns' Charlotte County campaign manager during the 1960 gubernatorial election, as well as having served as the Mayor of Punta Gorda.
Deegan served a little more than a year before he was removed from office by the next governor, Claude Kirk, a Republican. Governor Kirk then appointed Jack Bent, a fellow Republican, to complete Stickley's term of office.
John P. 'Jack' BentRepublican
Governor Claude Kirk, a Republican, appointed Jack Bent, a fellow Republican, to complete Sheriff Richard Stickley's term of office as Sheriff in 1967. Bent was living in Sarasota at the time. But he was familiar with Charlotte County, having served as a state forestry arson investigator, highway patrolman, and Lee County deputy.
During Sheriff Bent's 10 years in office, the county population grew from about 20,000 to about 80,000. The number of Sheriff's Office employees also grew, from 18 to 114.
Sheriff Bent moved the Sheriff’s Office from the County Courthouse to its first stand- alone private Headquarters on Airport Road. Sheriff Bent even drove the bulldozer that helped clear the land. The site still serves as the training center for the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Bent was defeated in the 1976 election by Alan L. LeBeau, one of his deputies. Bent attributed his defeat to the public's mood in favor of change -- any change.
Alan L. LeBeauDemocrat
Alan L. LeBeau was a deputy under Sheriff Jack Bent. In 1976, LeBeau ran against Sheriff Bent and defeated him by some 700 votes. Sheriff Lebeau was the youngest Sheriff elected in Charlotte County at 26 years of age.
During Sheriff LeBeau’s term in office he took steps to modernize the county's ambulance service which came under the Sheriff's Office. He implemented the Explorer program for youths considering law enforcement careers. He started a program for inmates who wanted to get their GED. He also began a trustee program to use jailhouse labor to maintain the sheriff's office. It was during his term as Sheriff that Charlotte County began the first Neighborhood Watch program. The Sheriff's Office got its first computers and had a 911 emergency call system installed during this time. Sheriff LeBeau was responsible for the Sheriff's Office starting an aviation division by obtaining its’ first helicopter.
LeBeau's budget grew to $2.2 million in four years.
LeBeau was defeated in his 1980 bid for re-election by Glen E. Sapp.
Glen E. SappRepublican
Glen E. Sapp came into office in 1981 fresh from an 11-week FBI course on professional law enforcement methods. He had formerly worked for the Starke Police Department, Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, and the State Attorney in the 8th Judicial Circuit before coming to Charlotte County. Sheriff Sapp was responsible for starting the School Resource Officer program at the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Sapp also greatly increased the use of Auxiliary Volunteer Deputies within the Sheriff’s Office to help augment his full time staff.
In 1985, a grand jury indicted Sapp on charges of grand theft involving the sale of an airplane to a corporation that leased it back to the sheriff's office.
Democratic Governor Bob Graham at first appointed J.M. "Buddy" Phillips, a Tallahassee Democrat, to serve as the "interim" sheriff. Graham subsequently replaced Phillips with then-Lee County Sheriff's Captain John J. McDougall.
Sapp was convicted in 1986, but the conviction was overturned on appeal and he was returned to his position as Sheriff that same year.
J.M. 'Buddy' PhillipsDemocrat
In 1985 when Sheriff Glen E. Sapp was indicted on criminal charges and suspended from office, Governor Bob Graham needed to find someone who could immediately fill the vacancy. He turned to someone who had experience at being a sheriff - J.M. "Buddy" Phillips.
Phillips had been a military policeman in the Army before joining the Suwannee County Florida Sheriff's Office in 1963. In 1968 he was elected Sheriff of Suwannee County, serving one four-year term.
In 1984, a sheriff suddenly left office in Flagler County Florida and Governor Graham needed to fill the position quickly. FDLE suggested Phillips' name to the Governor because he was a law enforcement agent and had previously been Sheriff of Suwannee County.
John J. McDougallRepublican
John J. McDougall did not start out to be the Sheriff of Charlotte County. He didn't even start out to be a cop. He spent seven years as a Franciscan monk before getting into law enforcement. He first worked in Norfolk County Massachusetts before joining the Lee County Sheriff's Office in 1974. By 1985, McDougall was a captain serving as the agency's public information officer.
In that year, Charlotte County Sheriff Glen E. Sapp was indicted on criminal charges and suspended by Governor Bob Graham. While J.M. "Buddy" Phillips served as the interim sheriff for about a month, the governor's office accepted applications to fill the position more permanently. McDougall submitted his application and was selected.
Sheriff McDougall's selection did not set well with several county commissioners who voiced their opinions to local media that McDougall's appointment as Sheriff was a political move.
Sheriff McDougall served Charlotte County for almost 14 months. During that time, suspended Sheriff Glen Sapp was convicted on one felony charge, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Sheriff Sapp returned to office in July 1986. John McDougall returned to his job at the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
In 1988, when Lee County Sheriff Frank Wanika decided not to seek re-election, former Charlotte County Sheriff John McDougall won his bid to become Lee County Sheriff John McDougall. He served three terms as Lee County Sheriff.
Glen E. SappRepublican
Sheriff Sapp completed his second term of office, but lost his bid for a third term when one of his former Deputies Richard H. Worch, Jr. defeated him in the Republican primary.
Richard H. Worch Jr.Republican
Richard H. Worch Jr. began his career with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office as a road patrol deputy under Sheriff Alan L. LeBeau. He was instrumental in Glen Sapp's election campaign in 1980 against Sheriff LeBeau. After Sapp was elected Sheriff, Richard Worch was promoted to a lieutenant's position at the Sheriff's Office. Shortly after Sheriff Sapp returned to office in 1986, Worch took a high ranking position with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. In 1988, Worch ran against Sheriff Sapp and defeated him.
Among Worch's first tasks was to get the Sheriff's Office accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. In order to accomplish this, the scant policies that existed had to be re-written and existing equipment issued to deputies had to be standardized.
Sheriff Worch instituted a "community policing" philosophy at the Sheriff's Office. He also began the "district" concept by initially dividing the county into three patrol districts. As Charlotte County grew, the busiest district that covered Port Charlotte and Murdock areas was divided to make a total of four districts that the Sheriff's Office operated out of.
During his tenure, Sheriff Worch had a long list of programs that he began. And was credited with modernizing the Sheriff’s Office records and management systems. After 12 years in office, Sheriff Worch was defeated in the 2000 election by Democrat William E. Clement.
After the election Richard Worch went on to become a command officer at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
William E. ClementDemocrat
William E. "Bill" Clement defeated Sheriff Richard Worch in the November 2000 election. Clement, who narrowly lost to Worch in 1996, won in 2000 with 51.73 percent of the total votes.
Sheriff Clement was a second generation native Floridian. He was born in Arcadia and lived most of his life prior to being elected Sheriff in the southwest Florida area.
Sheriff Clement had served in various positions from road patrol to chief investigator under Sheriff Alan LeBeau in the 1970's. He worked briefly at the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office before becoming a private investigator.
In 2003, Sheriff Clement was removed from office by Governor Jeb Bush when he was charged with a felony stemming from allegations of election law violations. Just as had happened 18 years earlier, the governor appointed J.M. "Buddy" Phillips to serve as the "interim" sheriff pending the appointment of a more permanent replacement. Also mirroring the events of 1985, Bush appointed Lee County Sheriff's Office Captain William F. Cameron to complete Clement's term of office.
Clement was convicted in early 2004. Later that year, his conviction was overturned on appeal. The State appealed the decision, but it was upheld by a high court in early 2005. However, by that time, John Davenport had won the November election as Sheriff.
Sheriff Clement retired to North Carolina.
J.M. 'Buddy' PhillipsDemocrat
In 2003, when Governor Jeb Bush suspended Sheriff William Clement after he was charged with a felony, Phillips came out of retirement to hold the position of Charlotte County Sheriff again, however; this time it was for about two months. In events that were reminiscent of 1985, Phillips was replaced by Lee County Sheriff's Office Captain William F. Cameron.
Within the Florida Sheriff’s Association history, J.M. “Buddy” Phillips is affectionately known as “The Sheriff of Florida” for having served as Sheriff of more counties than anyone in Florida history.
Bill Cameron began his law enforcement career at the Fort Myers Police Department in 1982 where he worked on road patrol, in narcotics and as a training officer. In 1987, he joined the Lee County Sheriff's Office. While there he worked his way up to the rank of captain.
When Sheriff William Clement was arrested and suspended from office in late 2003, Governor Jeb Bush selected Cameron as the man he would appoint as Sheriff in Charlotte County.
One of the first things Sheriff Cameron did was to begin a dialogue with the Charlotte County Commissioners. As a result, for the first time in many years, when the time came to discuss the Sheriff's Office's budget, there were no newspaper articles referring to "budget battles."
Even though Charlotte County had seen other people appointed to fulfill the terms for sheriffs who had been removed from office, Sheriff Cameron's term of office was unique for one memorable but terrifying reason - Hurricane Charley literally blew through the Sheriff's Office on August 13, 2004, ripping one-third of the roof from the administration building, starting in the corner with Sheriff Cameron's office. Sheriff Cameron was among 13 people who weathered the category four hurricane in an electrical closet.
When the group emerged afterward, Sheriff Cameron found much of Charlotte County as devastated as his own office. Help began arriving from outside agencies within hours. Over the following days, weeks and months, Sheriff Cameron lead the Sheriff's Office through the process of recovery.
Keeping his word to Governor Bush, Cameron did not seek election at the end of his appointed term. John Davenport who served as Cameron's Chief Deputy was elected Sheriff in November 2004. When he took office in January 2005, he kept Cameron on as his Chief Deputy. It was the first time in Florida history that a former Sheriff remained at the agency as the Chief Deputy.
In November 2004, John Davenport was elected to be Sheriff of the agency where he had started his law enforcement career almost 27 years earlier. Sheriff Davenport began his law enforcement career in 1978 when he became a corrections officer at the Sheriff's Office. Within a few years he had worked his way up in rank to being the Jail Commander.
Along the way, Sheriff Davenport obtained his law enforcement certification. He was transferred out of the jail and became the commander over the two district offices that covered the Englewood and Murdock areas. Under Sheriff Richard Worch, he was the commander of the Bureau of Law Enforcement before becoming Sheriff Worch's second-in-command of the entire agency.
As if typical when a new sheriff is elected, Sheriff William Clement brought in his own personnel to fill key high-ranking positions in January 2001. Then-Colonel Davenport was returned to the newly built county jail to again serve as the Jail Commander. While there, he oversaw the process of getting the jail accredited by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission.
In 2003 after Sheriff Clement was arrested and suspended, J.M. "Buddy" Phillips was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to quickly fill the vacancy. When Clement's second-in-command retired, Sheriff Phillips brought Davenport back to the position of second-in-command. Davenport remained in that position under William F. Cameron, who was the governor's more permanent appointee, making Davenport the only person to serve as under-sheriff for three different sheriffs.
Because Sheriff Cameron was not seeking election as the Charlotte County Sheriff, Davenport was able to remain with the Sheriff's Office while he campaigned. As the tightly contested primary election drew near, so did a category four hurricane named Charley. Sheriff Cameron and then-Major Davenport weathered the storm in an electrical closet of the Sheriff's administration building.
With much of Charlotte County, including the Sheriff's administration building and Davenport's own home, devastated by the August 13 hurricane, campaign signs were used to patch holes and broken windows more than to sway votes. The August 30 primary election was held as planned and Davenport emerged as the victor.
When Sheriff Davenport took office in January 2005, he noted that he had been able to work his way up the ranks within the agency and he wanted other employees to feel like they could do the same thing. So he did not bring in a new staff of people to fill the upper echelon positions. With one exception.... Sheriff Davenport kept William Cameron, appointing him as his Chief Deputy. For nearly the first two year of Davenport’s term he and his staff had to work out of temporary quarters while their headquarters building was being rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Charlie. At the same time Davenport helped steer the rebuilding of the community which was devastated by the hurricane. By the time Sheriff Davenport left office, Charlotte County had changed drastically.
Sheriff Davenport retired in January 2009 at the end of his term after almost 31 years in law enforcement in Charlotte County. He noted in an email to his employees that he had begun his career without any fanfare and he wanted to end his career the same way.
In early 2008, Davenport decided not to run for re-election and Cameron tossed his hat in the ring. In November 2008, Cameron was elected as Charlotte County's Sheriff, making him one of the few people who have ever been both appointed and elected to the office of Sheriff. He was sworn in as Sheriff on January 6, 2009. During his elected term Cameron is credited with starting many innovative programs in the county jail such as the Cell-Dog animal rehabilitation program, the hydroponic vegetable garden, and the catfish farm. Sheriff Cameron was also appointed by Chief Justice of Florida’s Supreme Court to represent the Florida Sheriffs on the Florida Innocence Commission which was formed to make recommendations to the Supreme Court to minimize wrongful convictions in Florida.
Sheriff Cameron decided not to seek re-election in 2012 and endorsed one of his Captains, Bill Prummell to succeed him. Prummell won election in August 2012 to become Charlotte County’s next Sheriff.