VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – For the last 45 years, 77-year-old Commander Francis “Mac” McBride walked the streets of downtown DeLand. He was considered the force behind community policing and initiated a program decades ago called, “Night Eyes” when he worked the night shift.
“When I found a door unlocked, I’d leave a card in the door saying I was by and that took off with the merchants. They loved it!” McBride said.
He eventually traded nights for days to protect and serve and never wanted to leave his beat. Instead, he worked hard to create relationships with the merchants and was the liaison between the business owners and the police department.
“You grow attached to them working so many years. Stories of their animals, their family life, their personal life. You get to know them and that’s what I’m going to miss the most,” he said.
On Friday, Commander McBride retired from the DeLand Police Department.
“He’s going to be missed by many,” Anita Rash said, owner of Anita’s Furniture & Home Decor.
Rash has owned her store on Woodland Boulevard for the last 21 years and said McBride is more than an officer, he’s a friend.
“He wants to support our downtown and he wants to get along with everybody, but he has to be stern as well because that’s his job. As far as an individual, everybody loves Mac,” she said.
The DeLand Police Department surprised Cdr. McBride with his last call from dispatch at his retirement party that was held at the Sanborn Activity Center on Friday afternoon.
“He built relationships with people and he’s a walking legacy of community policing. So, I’m really going to miss him, but his legacy will live on,” DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said.
His legacy is painted on a brick wall along Rich Avenue and was a gift from the downtown community who said they’ll always love him.
“It’s humbling. I’m honored that I’ve been able to serve this community for 45 years and loved every bit of it,” McBride said.
He said he’s moving to Alabama to be with family. The downtown merchants are raising money to help with his move.