CELEBRATE COMMUNITY: Leader of the Posse

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Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Terry Watkins honored on 40 years as volunteer.

By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn | hosbourne@nwfdailynews.com

FORT WALTON BEACH — Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Terry Watkins was honored last week for his 40-year service with the “Posse.”

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Posse is a non-profit organization, where members donate their time to assist the department in a multitude of functions.

Members of the Posse are trained by Florida’s Justice Standards and Training Commission. They also are trained as “Auxiliary Law Enforcement Officers,” according to the OCSO website.

Watkins, who’d rather not disclose his age, joined the Sheriff’s Office Posse in 1977, rising though the ranks to eventually become captain in 1989. With eight stars on his sleeve, each representing 5 years of service, Watkins is now the longest running volunteer with the organization.

“It’s just another day,” Watkins said. “I just enjoy helping others and being involved with law enforcement. I hope I have a few more years left in me. I enjoy doing what I do.”

As the Posse’s 28-year captain, Watkins manages 19 of its volunteers.

The volunteers serve Okaloosa County by transporting prisoners, assisting with courtroom security, guarding crime scenes, escorting dignitaries, providing backup to patrol deputies and working as security for festivals and other events.

Watkins, described by his peers as “positive” with a “can-do attitude,” has volunteered more than 23,000 hours of service to the community and Sheriff’s Office. This year alone, he has contributed more than 700 hours.

Watkins was honored as the 2013 Hometown Hero for his service with the Posse, the U.S. Army, the Destin Fire Department and as an EMT.

He is also a founding member of the Destin Search and Recovery Dive Team, a former president of the Destin Chamber Board of Directors and a member of the Florida Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

On Dec. 7, Watkins was honored at a Sheriff’s Office meeting for his service. OCSO Capt. Eric Aden said Watkins is an inspiration to all. 

“What’s so special about Terry is that his service is as a volunteer and non-compensated,” Aden said. “He just does so much for the community and has for so long that we felt he should be recognized any way that we could.”

Michele Nicholson, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said Watkins has and will continue to be the heart and soul of the Posse.

“It’s hard to even imagine the Posse without Capt. Watkins,” she said. “If the average taxpayer had to fund his service hours alone, I can’t even imagine how much that would be. After 40 years, he’s still right in the thick of things. The whole community is blessed to have him.”

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