30°41′15″N 86°35′33″W / 30.68750°N 86.59250°W / 30.68750; -86.59250

Okaloosa County
The Okaloosa County courthouse in March 2008
The Okaloosa County courthouse in March 2008
Flag of Okaloosa County
Official seal of Okaloosa County
Map of Florida highlighting Okaloosa County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 30°41′15″N 86°35′33″W / 30.6875°N 86.5925°W / 30.6875; -86.5925
Country United States
State Florida
FoundedSeptember 7, 1915
SeatCrestview
Largest cityCrestview
Area
 • Total1,082 sq mi (2,800 km2)
 • Land930 sq mi (2,400 km2)
 • Water152 sq mi (390 km2)  14.0%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total211,668
 • Estimate 
(2023)
218,464 Increase
 • Density200/sq mi (76/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district1st
Websitewww.co.okaloosa.fl.us

Okaloosa County is a county located in the northwestern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Alabama state line. As of the 2020 census, the population was 211,668.[1] Its county seat is Crestview.[2] Okaloosa County is included in the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

Okaloosa County was created by an act passed on September 7, 1915,[3] formed from the eastern ranges of Santa Rosa County and the western ranges of Walton County.

Okaloosa means "black water" (oka means "water" and lusa means "black") in the Choctaw language. The name may have come from the related language spoken by the Chatot and other peoples of the Florida Panhandle.[4]

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,082 square miles (2,800 km2), of which 930 square miles (2,400 km2) is land and 152 square miles (390 km2) (14.0%) is water.[5] Fort Walton Beach and three United States Air Force bases, (Duke Field in the North and Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field are in the south).

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Beach in Destin, Florida

State Parks and Forests

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
19209,360
19309,8975.7%
194012,90030.3%
195027,533113.4%
196061,175122.2%
197088,18744.2%
1980109,92024.6%
1990143,77630.8%
2000170,49818.6%
2010180,8226.1%
2020211,66817.1%
2023 (est.)218,464[11]3.2%
2020[1]
Okaloosa County racial composition as of 2020
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Pop 2010[14] Pop 2020[15] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 139,500 146,271 77.15% 69.1%
Black or African American (NH) 16,333 18,896 9.03% 8.93%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 895 799 0.49% 0.38%
Asian (NH) 5,189 6,578 2.87% 3.11%
Pacific Islander (NH) 330 448 0.18% 0.21%
Some Other Race (NH) 397 1,206 0.22% 0.57%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 5,882 14,892 3.25% 7.04%
Hispanic or Latino 12,296 22,578 6.8% 10.67%
Total 180,822 211,668 100.00% 100.00%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 211,668 people, 79,235 households, and 51,719 families residing in the county.

As of 2015,[16] there were 198,664 people and 95,494 households. As of the census of 2010,the population density was 194.4 people per square mile (75.1 people/km2).

As of 2015, there were 95,494 households. Within the 2010 census, 33.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.20% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.94.

According to the 2010 census, the population was spread out, with 24.70% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 102.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.50 males.

In 2015, the median income for a household in the county was $55,880. The per capita income for the county was $28,902. 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

Education

The county's public schools come under the Okaloosa County School District.

Northwest Florida State College serves over 10,000 residents of Okaloosa County annually for bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates. The college maintains four campuses in Okaloosa County: Niceville, Crestview, Ft. Walton Beach, and Hurlburt Field, and one campus in Walton County, FL.

Libraries

Okaloosa County is served by the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative. Formed in October 1997, the Cooperative originally included the county and the cities of Crestview, Mary Esther, and Niceville. The cities of Fort Walton Beach, Valparaiso, and Destin all joined the Cooperative by the year 2000.[17] The Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative is governed by an independent, inter-governmental agency with seven members.[18]

Transportation

Airports

Highways

See also: List of county roads in Okaloosa County, Florida

Surface transportation

Emerald Coast Rider (formerly Okaloosa County Transit)[19] operates bus services in the county.[20]

Okaloosa County's new Courthouse first case was held January 2, 2019.
Several road signs at the county and Destin boundary.

Law enforcement

In November 2023 in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy Jesse Hernandez and sergeant Beth Roberts shot multiple times at Hernandez's police car, where a handcuffed and unarmed black suspect had been placed there by police, according to investigators. The suspect was not injured by the shootings. Hernandez in December 2023 resigned from the department. In February 2024, it was announced that an internal investigation by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's office concluded that Hernandez began shooting after hearing the sound of an acorn bouncing off his police car, then Roberts began shooting after hearing Hernandez shooting and screaming, with Hernandez at one point shouting: "I'm hit! I'm hit!". Hernandez had told investigators that he thought he heard a gunshot from a "suppressed weapon" and believed that he had been shot: "I felt an impact on my right side, like upper torso area … I feel the impact. My legs just give out." The Sheriff's Office's stated that while Roberts' shooting was reasonable, Hernandez's shooting was "not objectively reasonable", but "we do believe [Hernandez] felt his life was in immediate peril".[21][22][23]

In May 2024, an Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy fatally shot Roger Fortson, a United States Air Force member, in Fortson's home in Fort Walton Beach.[24] According to body camera footage, when the deputy visited an apartment, Fortson opened the apartment door holding a gun in his right hand, with the gun held by his side and pointed downwards.[24][25] As the door opened, the deputy told Fortson to "step back" and immediately shot Fortson.[24][25][26] Fortson falls to the floor, and it is only then that the deputy tells Fortson: "Drop the gun!"[24][25]

Later in May 2024, a Florida woman sued the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, claiming that on two occasions, once in August 2019 and once in May 2020, they forced her to leave her home while she remained naked during the execution of search warrants, exposing her to law enforcement officers and the public.[27]

Politics

Okaloosa County is one of the most conservative counties in Florida. Incumbent George W. Bush won the county in 2004 with 78% of the popular vote and in 2008 the Republican candidate John McCain polled 72%.[28] Mitt Romney won the county in 2012 with 73.80% (70,168) of the popular vote, and Donald Trump won 70.42% (71,893) in 2016.[29]

United States presidential election results for Okaloosa County, Florida[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 79,798 68.35% 34,248 29.34% 2,697 2.31%
2016 71,893 70.42% 23,780 23.29% 6,423 6.29%
2012 70,168 73.80% 23,421 24.63% 1,486 1.56%
2008 68,789 71.82% 25,872 27.01% 1,120 1.17%
2004 69,693 77.65% 19,368 21.58% 695 0.77%
2000 52,186 73.69% 16,989 23.99% 1,644 2.32%
1996 40,683 64.53% 16,462 26.11% 5,899 9.36%
1992 32,818 53.13% 12,038 19.49% 16,913 27.38%
1988 40,389 80.04% 9,753 19.33% 320 0.63%
1984 37,044 83.51% 7,304 16.47% 9 0.02%
1980 28,072 69.62% 10,845 26.90% 1,406 3.49%
1976 18,598 55.86% 14,210 42.68% 487 1.46%
1972 23,303 88.64% 2,843 10.81% 144 0.55%
1968 5,525 26.54% 3,059 14.69% 12,237 58.77%
1964 9,961 55.80% 7,890 44.20% 0 0.00%
1960 4,685 36.18% 8,263 63.82% 0 0.00%
1956 2,788 32.66% 5,748 67.34% 0 0.00%
1952 2,355 30.47% 5,375 69.53% 0 0.00%
1948 486 12.13% 2,519 62.86% 1,002 25.01%
1944 626 17.87% 2,877 82.13% 0 0.00%
1940 690 18.68% 3,003 81.32% 0 0.00%
1936 457 15.81% 2,433 84.19% 0 0.00%
1932 232 9.79% 2,137 90.21% 0 0.00%
1928 1,385 72.70% 503 26.40% 17 0.89%
1924 183 19.20% 642 67.37% 128 13.43%
1920 411 40.98% 568 56.63% 24 2.39%
1916 303 31.86% 603 63.41% 45 4.73%

Communities

Cities

Towns

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[12][13]

References

  1. ^ a b "2020 Census Data". data.census.gov.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Hutchinson, Leonard Patrick, "History of the Playground Area of Northwest Florida", Great Outdoors Publishing Co., St. Petersburg, Florida, 1st ed., 1961, no Library of Congress card number, no ISBN, page 41.
  4. ^ Simpson, J. Clarence (1952) [1910]. Boyd, Mark F. (ed.). Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation. Special Publication No. 1 (Revised ed.). Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Geological Survey. p. 80.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  6. ^ "Florida State Parks".
  7. ^ McGovern, Bernie (2011). Florida Almanac 2012. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 186. ISBN 9781589808461.
  8. ^ "Florida State Parks".
  9. ^ a b McGovern, Bernie (2011). Florida Almanac 2012. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 214. ISBN 9781589808461.
  10. ^ "Florida State Parks".
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  12. ^ https://www.census.gov/ [not specific enough to verify]
  13. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  14. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  15. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  17. ^ Okaloosa County Library Cooperative. (2011). Introduction to the Okaloosa County Library Cooperative. Retrieved from https://www.cityofdestin.com/DocumentCenter/View/602/Introduction-to-Okaloosa-County-Public-Library-Cooperative[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative. (2018). About Us. Retrieved from https://readokaloosa.org/client/en_US/default/?rm=ABOUT[permanent dead link] US0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C0%7C%7C%7Ctrue
  19. ^ "Welcome to Emerald Coast Rider". Emerald Coast Rider. 2015. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  20. ^ "Ride The Wave! - EC Rider". www.ecrider.org. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  21. ^ "Florida deputy mistakes falling acorn for gunshot, fires into patrol car with Black man inside". Associated Press. February 17, 2024. Retrieved May 11, 2024.
  22. ^ Brasch, Ben (February 14, 2024). "Deputy scared by an acorn hitting his cruiser opens fire in street". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 16, 2024. Retrieved May 11, 2024.
  23. ^ Itoh, Katherine (February 15, 2024). "Video shows Florida deputy repeatedly shoot at man after thinking falling acorn was gunfire". NBC News. Retrieved May 11, 2024.
  24. ^ a b c d Novelly, Thomas (May 9, 2024). "Florida Airman Was Shot by Deputy Within Seconds of Opening Apartment Door, Body Cam Footage Shows". military.com. Retrieved May 9, 2024.
  25. ^ a b c Medina, Eduardo (May 9, 2024). "Sheriff Releases Body Camera Footage in Police Killing of Airman in His Home". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 10, 2024. Retrieved May 10, 2024.
  26. ^ Yousif, Nadine (May 9, 2024). "US airman shot and killed by police in Florida". BBC News. Retrieved May 10, 2024.
  27. ^ Griffith, Janelle (May 29, 2024). "Woman sues Florida sheriff alleging she was twice forced out of her home naked as deputies executed warrants". NBC News. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  28. ^ "2008 US Presidential Election Results by County - USATODAY.com". Content.usatoday.com. November 10, 2008. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  29. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".