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Police Home > History > Clearwater Police - Chief Ernest Flemming Gross

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 of Florida.

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.

If you have additional information on Chief Gross' life and career, we would like to hear from you. Contact us at police@myclearwater.com.

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