SJRCC instructor recollects police tradition

Historic City News has learned that St. Johns River Community College instructor and St. Augustine resident George Parsons has taken his lifelong passion for law enforcement beyond the beat with his first published book, “Passing the Baton.”

The book gives a first-hand account of the experiences, traditions and camaraderie behind his 24-year career in criminal justice.

Parsons said he wrote the book to carry on the history and tradition of the nightstick – or baton – and to share stories from his career that include serving in the arson, marine and K-9 units. “It’s my way of reaching beyond classroom instruction and giving advice to future officers regarding police life and the importance of teamwork,” Parsons said. “I also wanted to share the history of what was once considered a crucial part of an officer’s communication, defense and initiation – the baton.”

The book begins with the history of the baton and how officers once used it to keep a safe distance from civilians, call for help and to initiate members into the force. Parsons also reflects upon his career that began in 1973 with the Baltimore Police Department and the baton he calls “Miss Rosewood.”

“I still have my original nightstick that I purchased from a guy we called “Nightstick Joe.” It is handmade of rosewood,” Parsons said. “She went on the street with me every single day I worked. If Miss Rosewood could talk, she would tell a lot of stories.”

Parsons said preserving the baton’s history is important. “It’s not mandatory to teach the baton training. Today it’s optional, and that’s a mistake,” he said. “It’s a good tool to fall back on and it’s important to instill its history and tradition. An officer had to earn the right to become part of passing the nightstick.”

Parsons demonstrated the “drop” or “call for help” while on campus, letting his baton fall to the sidewalk in a loud clamor. Within seconds of dropping Miss Rosewood, several cadets rushed from the classrooms ready to assist Parsons, who consented with a grin.

Parsons’ retirement led him to Florida and eventually to SJRCC where he has taught within the criminal justice program for four years. In his book, Parsons also acknowledges his daughter, Holly, for designing the cover and SJRCC instructor John Green, Ph.D., for editing. The book was recently picked up by and and is available to the public.

George Parsons’ background includes four years in the military, serving in the US Navy aboard the USS Enterprise from 1969 to 1973 and completing two tours in Vietnam.

Parsons entered the Baltimore City Police Department, starting in patrol. From there, he transferred to the Tactical Section with assignments in K-9, Marine Unit, and Emergency Vehicle Unit (Bomb Squad).

After being promoted to Sergeant, his assignments included a return to patrol as a Sector Sergeant, the Narcotics Unit and Community Relations. His final assignment was that of Detective Sergeant/Arson Unit Commander.

Parsons retired in 1992 and spent ten years as a fraud investigator. In 2002, he went to work for the Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Training and Education Center for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as a Training Specialist teaching all areas of Law Enforcement and Corrections, as well as In-service Training.

Parsons is currently a full time Coordinator/Instructor at Saint Johns River Community College, Criminal Justice Training and Education Center in Saint Augustine, FL. He is FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) instructor certified in General Subjects, Firearms, Defensive Tactics, First Aid and Vehicle Operations. He is also Lead Instructor for FEMA Incident Command Systems.

George holds an AA Degree in Criminal Justice and a BS Degree in Sociology. He holds an US Merchant Marine Officer US Coast Guard Captain License and has attended the National Fire Academy and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for Fire Arson Investigation.

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