A Cop Shop in a Phone Booth

A Cop Shop in a Phone Booth

There’s Small, and Then There’s Smaller

When I created my fictitious town of Indian Run in Central Florida as an ideal location for Detective Lieutenant Claudia Hershey, I established the town with a population of about 8,000. Pretty small, no?

But get this: There actually is a bonafide city in Florida’s Panhandle that’s far smaller, with a population of about 1,300 residents. It’s a fishing village, really, and its name is Carrabelle. Most intriguing about it, at least for a mystery writer, is its police department. That tiny cop shop? It began in the early 1960s with nothing more than a metal call box bolted to a building. Officers would make and receive calls there. Seemed logical given the minuscule population.

However, visitors quickly realized they could use the phone for unauthorized long-distance calls. Not good. Officers got drenched when they had to use the call box and it rained. Also not good. Indeed, it became clear that the call box had to go, and it was replaced with . . . a phone booth. Yup. That became the new police station and in short order Carrabelle’s cop shop was dubbed as “The World’s Smallest Police Station.”

I’m not making this up. In fact, the cop shop grew a little famous, what with appearances on episodes of TV shows such as Johnny Carson, Real People, The Today Show and more. Had the police department’s phone booth not been battered by vandals, knocked over by a pick-up truck and damaged by Hurricane Kate in 1985, it might have remained a reasonable alternative for the tiny department.

Today? The Carrabelle police department is in a small building, which has to be a whole lot more comfortable for its police chief, deputy chief, three full-time officers and two part-time officers.

Of course, I thought I’d hit a slam dunk when I put top cop Claudia Hershey into my tiny town. Indian Run does reflect what so many small towns do — and for Hershey, of course, that means murders to investigate and resolve. But sometimes reality eclipses fiction and Carrabelle is one of those cases. (And I haven’t even mentioned Florida’s Yeehaw Junction, an “almost” town described as a “census-designated place.” Maybe some other time.)

And finally, yes, to answer so many of you who’ve written to me, the fourth in the Claudia Hershey Mystery Series is in development. When I’m done, I might ask you folks for title ideas. And then? Hopefully to you in ebook and paperback versions early next year.

Ever onward!

— Laura