SHALIMAR, Fla. (WKRG) — Capt. Terry Watkins retired from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Posse division Thursday morning after 45 years of service. Capt. Watkins told WKRG News 5 that he wants to be remembered as somebody who cares.

“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done, all 45 years. There have been a few ups and a few downs but a lot more ups and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Watkins.

Sheriff Eric Aden hosted a retirement ceremony for the long-time volunteer at the Shalimar Headquarters. County Commissioner Paul Mixon read a proclamation at the ceremony naming Oct. 13, 2022, as Capt. Terry Watkins Day.

Capt. Terry Watkins (Ret.) with Okaloosa County Commissioner Paul Mixon

“Terry did all of this, thousands of hours of dedicated time that he volunteered,” said Aden. “A full-time employee works 2,000 hours a year and he was doing over half of that every year for decades and didn’t get compensated for it. That’s what is so important about this accomplishment.”

Following in his footsteps, Terry’s son Todd Watkins is also a Capt. in the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. Both got emotional Thursday morning talking about how proud they are to serve this community.

Capt. Watkins history:

  • Terry Watkins served in the U.S. Army from 1965-1967 in radio communications at a of rank E5.
  • He then worked for the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park as a Dolphin and Sea Lion trainer from 1967-1970.
  • Watkins retired as a manager at Destin Water Users Inc. in 2008 after nearly 35 years of service.
  • He also served as an instructor for the University of Florida TREEO Center
  • Watkins Joined to work with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Posse from 1977-present

Capt. Watkins said he has worked for 5 different sheriffs over the years. Training the deputies from the posse side up to full-time employees.

“Back in the 80s, over 40% of the deputies had been in the Posse at one time, and that was a stepping stone,” said Watkins. “They wouldn’t hire you unless you served some time in the Posse so that was quite a pat on our back for being the training field for some of you guys that are in here.”

For his retirement, Sheriff Aden gave Capt. Watkins an engraved box with a gun and coins of service. The current and former Posse members stood and recognized the long-term leader with a plaque and memories of his years of service.

The Destin Seafood Festival presented a key to Capt. Watkins for his decades of work protecting folks at the annual event. Others from his past came to share stories and give thanks to Capt. Watkins’ leadership over the years.