CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Police Department recognized a brave, selfless hero March 26, one who gave his life for his community 45 years ago. Investigator Buster "Buddy" Adams is the only Crestview Police Department officer killed in the line of duty.
For Chief Jamie Grant and his officers, Adams' photo in the lobby is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that they are prepared to offer.
A two-tour Vietnam War military police officer and Purple Heart recipient, Adams tried a stint as a grocer after leaving the military, but law enforcement was in his blood. He joined the Crestview Police Department as a patrol officer in May 1970.
"His calling was to be a policeman and to do his best to take care of everyone," Butch Reppert, a former CPD officer, said.
Even after advancing to investigator a couple years after joining CPD, Adams never stopped patrolling the streets of Crestview, journalist Isaac Sabetai reported in an April 2002 article in the Northwest Florida Daily News.
He would work a full day and then some, sometimes getting off work at 11 p.m. Then he and Reppert would patrol together until the early morning hours, stopping at Crestview’s only 24-hour store at the time, a Tom Thumb that stood where the Knights of Columbus lodge in Twin Hills Park is now.
"He went way beyond what you should do to help people — both good and bad," Reppert said during an interview with Sabetai. "His main goal was protecting people in town."
When the pair were on patrol, Reppert learned from his friend, who had a talent for diffusing a tense situation before it blew out of control, especially when it came to disorderly regulars at some local bars.
"He'd get it over before it mushrooms," Reppert said. "That's where experience came in. He had a special way of talking to them to calm things down."
On March 26, 1974, Reppert was off duty and Adams was chatting with former Mayor George Whitehurst. A call came over the radio, reporting an armed patron causing trouble at the Old Quaker Lounge, today a Cash’s liquor store and bar near Northview Plaza shopping center.
Adams responded immediately.
The Officer Down Memorial Page summarized what happened next.
"(Adams) had responded to the bar after receiving a report that a man was inside with a gun. When he asked the man to step outside to talk, a struggle ensued. Although mortally wounded, Investigator Adams was able to return fire and strike the suspect. Other responding officers also returned fire, fatally wounding the man."
The killer was 49-year-old Forest Taylor. No one knew much about him or why he slew Adams, who was 28 years old at the time of his death.
"When you've got a dark bar and shooting starts, who can say what happened?" an incident investigator said.
"He was a real clean-cut officer," Whitehurst told Sabetai. "He would've moved up the ranks in law enforcement. He had his whole life in front of him. We all hated to lose him. It was a sad time in the city."
"That night the city lost one of the best ones it had," Reppert said.
On June 15, 2010, the CPD posthumously promoted Adams to police sergeant in recognition of his honorable sacrifice for the people of Crestview.
The CPD will have a brief sunrise memorial service for fallen officers 6:15 a.m. May 15 at the Whitehurst Municipal Building flagpole, 201 Stillwell Blvd., Crestview.