Professor of Criminology
University of South Florida
BACKGROUND: Originally from New York City, Leonard Territo said law enforcement has taken up the crux of his life. "Since I got into police work at age 21, I never considered doing anything else." After a four-year-stint in the Navy, Territo joined the Tampa Police Department in 1959. In the mid-1970s, he served first as major and then as chief deputy with the Leon County Sheriff's Department in Tallahassee. Besides USF, Territo has taught homicide investigation at the Tampa Police Academy and law enforcement courses at St. Petersburg Junior College. He holds an associate of arts in police administration, a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary social science, a master of arts in political science and a doctorate of education.
EXCITING JOBS: Craving excitement, Territo performed sea/air rescues in the Navy. "I was the guy they lowered down into the water to rescue pilots." When he got out, he was looking for something that would provide him that same adrenalin jolt. Law enforcement seemed to be the ticket. "My initial perception was that police work would not be boring and I found out that it was even more exciting than I expected. . . . You could become a police officer and repeat the same thing you did for several years. If you have a curiosity about the profession, there were many areas you could delve into." And delve in he did. He started as a TPD uniform police officer walking the beat in Franklin Street and Ybor City, where his grandparents once made cigars. He has also worked as a motorcycle cop, an internal affairs officer, an administrator, and as a robbery, rape and homicide detective.
BUNDY CASE: As chief deputy, Territo was involved in a 1978 investigation of the murder of two women at a Florida State University sorority house. Serial killer Ted Bundy was eventually convicted of the crimes. Territo played an advisory role in the case. "Any time there was a brainstorming session, I would take part both because of my experience teaching homicide investigation and as a homicide investigator." Although his contact with Bundy was minimal, Territo said Bundy had a non-threatening demeanor. "This would explain why women would get into the car with him." He was amazed by the amount of amorous attention Bundy received while in jail. "These were proposals of marriage and letters of endearment. When we went to court, there were even Bundy groupies."
THE INVESTIGATION: The Bundy investigation was high-profile and complicated. Like any other investigation, he said it was successful because of cooperation from other agencies and tracking down every possible lead. "We didn't know who Ted Bundy was at the time." In the end, luck played an important role. "Bundy was arrested in Pensacola in a stolen car, and had identification from a man whose car had been broken into not too far away from the Chi Omega sorority house."
TEACHING STAGE: Territo said he feels comfortable teaching any law enforcement subject from police civil liability to criminal investigation. He enjoys teaching for the interaction he receives from the students and for the drama that it can involve. "If I had any real talent I would have been an actor instead of a teacher. I really love (teaching) because it is a kind of stage, but it is the kind of stage where you have to be very proficient in your topic."
BOOKS: Along with lecturing, he has co-authored nine books dealing with the law enforcement profession. These books include Police Civil Liability; Criminal Investigation, 5th edition; and Crime and Justice in America, 3rd edition. However, Territo is attempting to go beyond non-fiction. He and professor-emeritus George Kirkham are working on a novel about a serial rapist based on a true case. They hope to have the novel ready by May and then plan to do the publishing rounds.