Chief John Van Etten is a life-long member of the Panama City community. He began his law enforcement career with the Panama City Police Department in 1984. He progressed through the ranks of the department working in Patrol, Investigations, Intelligence, Community Policing, and serving as the Tactical Commander of the department’s Special Response Team. In April of 1999, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Police. In July of 2004, he was asked to serve as Interim Chief of Police. In November of 2004, he was appointed to the position of Chief of Police.
He is a graduate of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Senior Leadership Program, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy. He received his AA degree at Gulf Coast Community College and is also a graduate of Columbia Southern University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Chief Van Etten serves his profession and community by participating in various civic organizations. He currently serves on the executive board of the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Girls, Inc. of Bay County, Gulf Coast Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Board, Chair of Gulf Coast Criminal Justice Selection Center, member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He has been an active volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America for the past 17 years, where he currently serves on the District Committee. He previously served as a Teen Court Board Member, and Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Council.