BY ANDREAS BUTLER, DAYTONA TIMES: Daytona’s second-in-command and highest-ranking Black cop ever is headed up North because of an offer that he couldn’t refuse.
Deputy Chief Benjamin ‘Ben’ Walton is leaving the Daytona Beach Police Department to take a position as the executive director of public safety for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
“I didn’t apply for the job; they sought me out. We had dialogue and they made me an offer that I just couldn’t refuse,” said Walton.
Pushed for diversity
Walton spent almost six years with the Daytona Beach police. He started as deputy chief of the Support Bureau and ended up as deputy chief of the Operations Bureau.
DBPD Chief Michael Chitwood commented, “He has been a great partner and friend. I wish him the best in his new assignment. The Philadelphia Housing Authority is a getting a great asset. Myself, the police department and the city will miss him greatly.”
“It was great. I learned a lot and met a lot of people. I know that I am leaving the department better than it was when I first got here. I am thankful to the chief for the opportunity,” Walton acknowledged.
During his tenure at the DBPD, Walton did his best to diversify the department.
“The only regret that I have is that we weren’t able to get to 20 percent Black officers. We only got to 15 percent. That is thanks to Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State College, which really helped us with recruiting,” Walton told the Times.
Walton credits the low number of Blacks in law enforcement to history.
“There is a long history. There is a disconnection between the Black community and the police both here and other places. The Black community distrusts the police. Here it’s getting better, but there still needs improvement,” explained Walton.
Police and military career
Walton also has had a military career. He served 29 years (1973-2002) in the United States Air Force.
“It has helped a great deal by teaching me discipline with regard to my police career. The police are a paramilitary unit, and what you learn in the military helps on the shooting range and with dealing with people of different races, genders and ethnicities,” Walton explained.
Before his time in Daytona, Walton had a distinguished career in law enforcement. He retired from the Philadelphia police force with the rank of captain after 30 years (1976-2006) of service.
“I have had a great career. It owes me nothing. It has been good to me. I’ve met a lot of great and influential people, including Colin Powell, President George H.W. Bush and President Obama. I have also meet NASCAR drivers and actor Nicholas Cage,” Walton chuckled.
With his ties to Philadelphia Walton, believes that his transition should be easier.
“The transition should be a lot smoother because of the ties and rapport that I still have with people in law enforcement there,” added Walton.
Walton would like to see more youngsters consider careers in the military and police.
“I would encourage all kids, not only Blacks, to go the military or be a cop, or go to the military first then be a cop, especially if college isn’t for them. I have a son in the Army that has done two tours in Iraq and is now in Korea.”
Walton added, “I refer being a policeman to the song ‘Car Wash’ by Rolls Royce. ‘You may never get rich, but it’s better than digging a ditch. You never know who you might meet – a movie star or an Indian chief. You’re not here to be a star.’”