Chief Ernest Flemming Gross
1930 - 1936
Earnest Flemming Gross was born in Washington County, Georgia,
on March 17, 1879. Prior
to his relocation to Clearwater in 1925, he was a Deputy Sheriff
with the Washington County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office.
While serving as a Clearwater patrol officer, he was recognized
by the City Commission for bravery for apprehending a “cop
killer” on October 25, 1929. Sam Wiggins, who had murdered St. Petersburg motorcycle
officer, W.E. Minor, made the fatal mistake of shooting at
Officer Gross when Wiggins was stopped in Clearwater.In the ensuing gun battle, Wiggins was shot four times
and died as a result.
Chief Gross was appointed Acting Chief of Police on January 6,
1930 and was certified to permanent status on May 17, 1930. While serving as Chief, he instituted several
innovative procedures. He
was responsible for initiating the release of prisoners, held for
minor offenses, from the city jail each Saturday morning thereby
allowing them to be with their families and also saving the City
the cost of feeding them.The program was extremely successful. Chief Gross hired Officer Loman Mack, who was
reported to have been the first black uniformed officer in the state
Chief Gross served as Chief of Police until his retirement in 1936.He retired to his farm in Bartow, Georgia, to pursue his
hobbies of hunting and fishing.Chief Gross passed away on March 11, 1962 at
the age of 83. He is survived by his son, Zade Gross, and grandsons
Wayne Gross and Dr. Zade B. Gross, Jr., both of whom reside in Clearwater.
He is also survived by granddaughters Peggy Gross-Young of Clearwater
and Patsy Gross-McMillan of Bartow, Georgia. Chief Gross has five
great grandchildren, eight great great grandchildren and one great
great great grandchild who are all residents of Clearwater.
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