Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawtey Chief Has Lasted, and Has Title to Prove It Folks Say Jordan Good at His Job

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawtey Chief Has Lasted, and Has Title to Prove It Folks Say Jordan Good at His Job

Article excerpt

Byline: Rich Tucker, Times-Union staff writer

LAWTEY -- It was just a few weeks ago that researchers from the Guinness Book of Records confirmed Millard Jordan's suspicion that he is the longest-serving police chief in the world.

"You know that tingly feeling you get when you're excited?" asked the 39-year Lawtey police chief, proudly displaying a certificate proclaiming him a world record-holder. "That's what I had as I held the envelope."

But getting into the Guinness Book of Records hasn't made Jordan complacent. He's right in the middle of a re-election campaign, and the man people here simply call "Chief" has grown accustomed to fighting on experience's side in its age-old battle against youth.

This time, the challenger is Jimmy Smith, a 29-year-old Green Cove Springs officer who cut his teeth in law enforcement working for Jordan 10 years ago and now is running against him for the four-year, $40,000-a-year post.

"I have a lot of respect for the chief, but his ideas are 40 years old," Smith said. "I think people are ready for a change."

Jordan, 63, loudly announces that he isn't worried about the upstart Smith. But he's not taking any chances. Sitting in his memento-packed office in Lawtey's small City Hall, he keeps an eye on the door, watching for eavesdroppers friendly to the other side.

"I've been challenged before, but it's never been close," Jordan said, chain-smoking and munching on peanut butter crackers. "I treat people right. That's the reason I win. That's the reason I got this award."

Jordan embarked on his law enforcement career in 1961 in Starke -- just about 5 miles farther south down U.S. 301. When Lawtey started searching for a police chief, Jordan applied and was appointed the small town's lone officer 14 months later.

It took more than 10 years and several re-elections before he had some company, but as the town and department grew, Jordan became instrumental to other projects, such as establishing a volunteer fire department and getting the town's lone traffic light installed.

Along the way, he earned a reputation as a merciless enforcer of speed limits on the highway through Lawtey. AAA guidebooks warn tourists that the town is a major speed trap -- a dubious 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 recognition as the winningest police chief began with a letter to Guinness more than a year ago. London-based Guinness researcher Kim Lacey said Jordan's claim to fame had to be carefully examined. Local newspapers were searched for clips about him, and employees and family members were interviewed. The title of "longest-serving chief of police" was created especially for Jordan. …

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