Wildwood celebrates police headquarters’ 1-year anniversary

The Wildwood Police Department celebrated the one-year anniversary of its headquarters building. The facility has helped the department grow and offer more for the community.

Randy Parmer still enjoys giving tours of the Wildwood Police Department’s new headquarters.

One year after officially moving into the new facility, the building has become like home for officers and staff, said Parmer, Wildwood police chief.

“It has been such a great transition for us,” he said. “Everybody is happy here. The building has everything we need to grow as a department and offer more services to the residents of Wildwood.”

The 14,000-square-foot facility on County Road 462 near U.S. Highway 301 cost about $7 million.

Since opening in August 2020, the new headquarters has become a source of pride for the city, Parmer said.

“It’s a beautiful facility in a great location,” he said. “People stop by asking to take tours and we still like to show it off. We’ve also been able to host other agencies for training sessions, so it really has become a showcase for the city.”

It’s certainly a huge step up from Parmer’s first office when he was hired in 2019.

“I never had the occasion to work in the old police department because it closed before I got here,” he said. “But for the first year and a half I was here, we worked out of a single-wide trailer, so this is a tremendous upgrade.”

The building was designed and constructed with future growth of the city and department in mind. Detectives who had been working in tight quarters now have room to spread out their case notes. Evidence technicians not only have improved working spaces but new, advanced equipment on which to work. Officers will even be able to use an on-site fitness center.

The new headquarters was a key to the department recently earning its first accreditation from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, said City Manager Jason McHugh.

“As part of the accreditation process, you need the proper facilities in order to handle so many of the thing you need to do as a law enforcement agency,” he said. “So without the new building, we couldn’t have gotten accredited, it’s as simple as that.”

The new building has been part of a total makeover for the department said Mayor Ed Wolf.

“I think the department has really made some remarkable progress,” he said. “We have the updated facility, we just got our first accreditation, we’ve had some great new hires. All these things are paying off and the people of Wildwood are seeing a big difference.”

Wolf said the headquarters shows the commitment made to the department by the commission.

“It’s important that our police department knows they have the backing of the commission 100%, especially when you see things that are happening with law enforcement around the nation,” he said.

City Commissioner Marcos Flores, who previously spent nearly seven years as a deputy with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said helping improve the department has been one of his top priorities.  

“Because of my experience as a law enforcement officer, I have really focused my attention on the police department and trying to get them modernized,” he said.

The city plans to add four new officers in the next year and the building itself can act as a recruiting tool, Flores said.

“Ever since the new building opened the morale has been way up,” he said. “Officers have a place to work they can be proud of. That will definitely help us with new recruits when they see what the city of Wildwood has to offer.”

Specialty Editor Keith Pearlman can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5347, or keith.pearlman@thevillagesmedia.com.