Former Vero police chief, city manager inducted into Hall of Fame


A former Vero Beach police chief and city manager was among 10 individuals inducted into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame on Saturday.

James M. Gabbard, who worked at the West Palm Beach Police Department before coming to the Vero Beach Police Department, was among the inductees, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The announcement came on the last day of National Police Week.

“While some want to ‘defund the police’ in other parts of the country, in Florida, we unapologetically support our law enforcement community,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “In 2021, we’ve taken action to stand firmly behind the men and women who wear the uniform by providing bonuses directly to first responders and signing the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the nation. I’m proud today to honor some of the most accomplished officers in our state and thank them for their remarkable service.”

The induction ceremony was held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Florida Capitol Courtyard, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website. The ceremony honored 10 inductees for 2020 and 2021.

“I could not be more grateful for the 2020 and 2021 Florida Law Enforcement Hall of Fame inductees for their commitment to serve and protect our state,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “Each of these officers has played a pivotal, historic role in shaping and advancing Florida law enforcement. Our state is stronger and safer because they answered the call to serve.”

The inductees were nominated by the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Police Benevolent Association, Fraternal Order of Police and State Law Enforcement Chief’s Association, and then were selected by a committee.

Gabbard began his law enforcement career at 19 at the West Palm Beach Police Department. He eventually went to the Vero Beach Police Department, where he was appointed as police chief in 1986, officials said.

Gabbard made his mark at the agency, where he led the construction of a new state-of-the-art police headquarters and firearms training facility. He also helped to improve the police department’s accreditation, officials said.

Gabbard retired from the police department in 2005 to become the city manager for Vero Beach, officials said. Gabbard served as the city manager until 2011.

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