Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Dan Bates

Former St. Petersburg police spokesman Dan Bates dies at 63

ST. PETERSBURG — Dan Bates wore his police uniform proudly, with extra starch in his shirts and a reflective shoeshine.

Police work was one of several interwoven callings he pursued simultaneously. Mr. Bates joined St. Petersburg police in 1975 and would become one of its foremost communicators, whether handling the press or clowning as McGruff the Crime Dog.

He helped businesses stay safe, from the new YMCA to Midtown and Tropicana Field, sharing his expertise on crime prevention.

Through music and his Christian faith, he spread a gospel of hope to friends, prisoners and strangers.

Mr. Bates, who spent a 27-year career with the St. Petersburg Police Department, serving as the department's spokesman and an expert in crime prevention, died Feb. 26 at home. He was 63.

"He talked to the homeless, prostitutes, criminals," said Carol Ann Bates, his wife. "You would think that someone who had spent all those years in law enforcement would develop a hard heart for individuals who used drugs or had a history of being in jail. But Dan never had any prejudice."

A friend of 25 years learned that quality firsthand. Jim McConnell Jr. was newly recovering from a drug addiction in 1989 when he attended a three-day retreat organized by the Lutheran church. He began chatting with the man in the next seat.

"For a guy with a drug problem to be sitting next to a cop turned out to be ironic," said McConnell, 60. "He reminded me that the grace of Christ was there for all of us."

Daniel Robert Bates was born in West Allis, Wis., in 1950, the son of a police officer. He learned to play the guitar, fiddle and mandolin, another form of ministry he would practice throughout his life.

After two marriages of a few years each, he married Carol Ann in 1996. They shared a spiritual bond. Mr. Bates led a 300-member men's group in Bible Study Fellowship. Even his dogs were ministerial. Two golden retrievers, the late Brandy and Bella, had been trained as therapy dogs.

Mr. Bates retired from St. Petersburg police in 2002. He taught police work at St. Petersburg College, then served as a codes manager for the city of Clearwater before joining the Belleair Police Department in 2010.

Belleair police Lt. Bill Sohl called him a "standout officer and a good detective" with an infectious laugh.

"Once you walk into a room, if he was already laughing, you didn't have to know what it was about, it was infectious," said Sohl, 61.

Mr. Bates was still working until a few weeks ago, despite a diagnosis of esophageal cancer in November 2012.

He and his wife started their day at 5 a.m. with devotional readings on the love seat facing the living room window. Before long, he would be putting in his miles on the treadmill. His wife, a hospice nurse, could see the march of the disease.

"Dan may not have gotten his head wrapped around it, but I knew it," said Carol Ann Bates, 60. She monitored his food, liquids and medications. He nicknamed her the Hawk.

He spent his spare time in study with his instruments, including a Brazilian rosewood steel-string guitar and an old clarinet. Several weeks ago, he finally swapped out the screen saver on the 27-inch Apple computer monitor in the room, a cozy scene of cowboys. The new image shows the earth, an image taken from space, the planet's curvature plainly visible.

"He changed it," his wife said. "I think he was thinking about going."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.


Daniel Robert "Dan" Bates

Born: May 30, 1950

Died: Feb. 26, 2014

Survivors: wife, Carol Ann Bates; daughter, Dana Marie Norden; stepson, Aaron Hull; sisters, Pauline Fredrickson and Jeannine Bohn; and brother, Randy Bates.

Former St. Petersburg police spokesman Dan Bates dies at 63 03/08/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 8, 2014 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Hard Knocks' effect: Jameis Winston jersey sales surging


    Two weeks into the national publicity of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's No. 3 jerseys are selling well, as he made the biggest leap in this week's jersey report from Dick's Sporting Goods.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's No. 3 jerseys are selling well. [Getty Images]
  2. Top 5 at noon: Southern Heritage group draw fire; video shows Tampa's transformation; and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Strategic Property Partners is working with more than a dozen architectural and design firms on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project. [Photo courtesy of SPP]
  3. Pinellas receives two charter school applications


    Following a two-year dry spell, the Pinellas County school district has received two new applications to open charter schools in St. Petersburg.

    Windsor Preparatory Academy in St. Petersburg could be home to Pinellas Academy of Math and Science's St. Petersburg campus. The Pinellas County school district received a charter school application from that school's leadership this fall to open in 2018.
  4. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents


    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    Charled "Fred" Hearns, an expert on local African-American history, is listed in the Save Southern Heritage Florida report as a "resentful black man." Hearns, 68, said he is resentful: "I resent racism and symbols of hatred." [Times files]
  5. Gen. Votel interview: 'A bit of a stalemate' in Afghanistan, but a chance to optimize gains there


    In developing the plan for the war in Afghanistan that he announced Monday night, President Donald Trump consulted with advisers including his military leaders through their chain of command.