Frank O. Gray grew up in the neighborhoods of East Tampa. He was born in Belmont Heights and raised in Jackson Heights, where his father built their family home. Frank joined the United States Army Reserves in 1956, when he was 17 years old. While stationed at Fort Benning Army Base in Columbus, Georgia, he witnessed a negative encounter between two White police officers and a Black female victim of domestic violence. The incident was so disturbing that it inspired him to seek a career in law enforcement in order to prevent this type of treatment in the Black community. “A police officer is a protector of mankind; they are to enforce the laws of the United States, State, County and City,” says Frank.
Corporal Frank O Gray joined the Tampa Police Department on March 18, 1963 and retired in 1981. He is the last of the Black officers that: spent extensive time walking the beat on Central Avenue, Main Street, and 22nd Street; he is the oldest living Black police officer retired from the Tampa Police Department.