CARRABELLE, FL — If you’ve got trouble in Carrabelle, Florida, just dial 3691. That’s the number for a blue phone booth on the main drag that is the world’s smallest police station. The phone booth is shaded by a shiny berry tree, and there’s a park bench in front where policemen can keep an eye on the town of Carrabelle (population 1,800).
The phone booth was installed in 1963 to keep policemen out of the rain. “They used to have a phone on the wall across the street,” said Police Chief Jesse Smith, during an interview in the early 1990s. “But every time it rained, the man who answered it would get wet.”
At the time, the single police officer walked a beat and didn’t have a patrol car, Smith said. The department has grown to three officers since then, but little else has changed.
“I love it here,” said Smith, who had worked for the station for 22 years. “It’s just like any other place. You have the same things, you just don’t have as much. Some days you’ll come and you won’t get a call all day, other days they’ll keep you running.”
When he’s not patrolling, Smith parks by the phone booth. “We just sit here because there’s a little shade and it’s right in the middle of town. We can see everything that’s going on. And if people need to get a hold of us they call it and we answer the phone.”
Smith said visitors come from “all over the world” to see his police station. “They want us to stand around and take pictures with them and we do it.” (The town now has another one-room police office, but it doesn’t attract visitors.)
In 1991, Smith was a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. “I enjoyed the trip, it was real nice. They carried us all over the place in a limo. Johnny just asked about the police station.”
Smith has also been featured in a commercial for the police program “In the Heat of the Night.” But Carrabelle doesn’t get the program, and “I ain’t never seen it,” Smith said.
Be sure to wave the next time you drive through Carrabelle. Or better yet, stop and chat a while.