TAMPA BAY, FL — On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on all local and state buildings, installations and groups throughout Florida from sunset to sunset Monday, May 16, in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
The day honors the lives of local, state and federal officers who have died or become disabled in the line of duty.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to recognize the officers who served on the front lines and show appreciation for those who continue to battle against crime.
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“We will never forget the enduring legacy of law enforcement heroes,” DeSantis said.
From May 11 to Tuesday, May 17, DeSantis further honored the men and women of Florida’s police forces by lighting the Florida Historic Capitol blue in recognition of National Police Week.
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“In Florida, we back the blue,” said DeSantis. “While some states talk about defunding the police, we fund the police and then some because we respect the work they do to keep all of us safe. This week, we honor the men, women, and their families who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities.”
On April 1, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 3, the strongest law enforcement recruitment and support initiative in the nation, into law.
- Provides signing bonuses of up to $5,000 to newly employed law enforcement officers in Florida through the creation of the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Payment Program.
- Covers tuition, fees and up to $1,000 of eligible education expenses for trainees enrolled in a law enforcement officer basic recruit training program through the creation of the Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program.
- Offers a reimbursement program to pay for up to $1,000 of eligible equivalency training costs for certified law enforcement officers who relocate to Florida or members of the special operations forces who become full-time law enforcement officers in Florida.
- Makes dependent children of law enforcement officers eligible to receive a Family Empowerment Scholarship to attend private schools.
- Provides law enforcement officers who adopt a child from within the state child welfare system with a $10,000 benefit or a $25,000 benefit for adopting a child with special needs.
DeSantis also released a proclamation declaring this week National Police Week in Florida. To view DeSantis’ proclamation, click here.
Tampa Police Travel To Nation’s Capital
A contingent of Tampa police officers traveled to Washington, D.C. this weekend to attend National Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremonies in the nation’s capital.
“This week, we gather to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives in service to our country,” said U.S. Attorney General Garland. “We remember the courage with which they worked and lived. And we recommit ourselves to the mission to which they dedicated their lives. On behalf of a grateful Justice Department and a grateful nation, I extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the entire law enforcement community.”
Based on data submitted to and analyzed by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, 472 law enforcement officers died nationwide in the line of duty in 2021. Of that number, 319 succumbed to COVID-19.
The names of 619 officers were added this year to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and read during a candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., Friday night, including Tampa Master Police Officer Jesse Madsen.
On March 9, 2021, Madsen, 45, received a call alerting him of a drunk driver heading the wrong way on Interstate 275 at a high speed. To avoid a likely head-on crash with another driver, Madsen drove his cruiser into the drunk driver’s path, killing both the drunk driver and Madsen, a father of three.
Madsen was among 30 officers who died in the line of duty in the Middle District of Florida, which includes the Tampa Bay area.
According to 2021 statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program, 73 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were killed as a result of felonious acts, whereas 56 died in accidents.
Deaths resulting from felonious acts increased in 2021, rising more than 58 percent from the previous year.
In 2021, unprovoked attacks were the cause of 24 deaths significantly outpacing all other line-of-duty deaths resulting from felony acts and reaching the highest annual total in over 30 years of reporting.
Thin Line Tribute
In Florida during National Police Week May 11 to 17, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody recognized the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Thin Line Tribute initiative.
Moody created the Thin Line Tribute to recognize and show appreciation for the courageous and often-thankless work of Florida’s frontline law enforcement officers.
“One year ago, I launched a new initiative to honor the unsung heroes of Florida law enforcement,” Moody said. “We call it the Thin Line Tribute. Through this important statewide invitation we have promoted the heroic acts of frontline officers and created opportunities for the state of Florida to show its appreciation and say thank you.”
Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Salutes Fallen
Throughout Tampa Bay, sheriff’s offices and police departments remembered those who have fallen in the line of duty.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office held a ceremony at the Sheriff’s Fallen Heroes Memorial, built in 2014, where the names and faces of 17 sheriff’s deputies who died serving are etched.
Additionally, members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office motor unit participated in the 2022 Police Unity Tour. The ride began in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday and finished in Washington, D.C. at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Salutes Fallen
On May 11, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office hosted its 32nd annual Pinellas County Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial at the sheriff’s administration building in Largo.
The event features a roll-call of the 26 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in Pinellas County since 1905.
Tampa Police Remember Officers Who Died In Line Of Duty
On May 9, the Tampa Police Department hosted a ceremony at the Tampa Police Headquarters in Tampa.
Since 1895, there have been 32 Tampa police officers killed in the line of duty.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Police Chief Mary O’Connor and Tampa police family and friends honored the lives of the fallen officers whose names are etched on the Tampa Police Fallen Officers Monument. The story of each of these heroes can be read online.
Clearwater Police Remember Fallen Officers
On May 13, the Clearwater Police Department joined with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 10 for its annual police memorial service, held at Station Square Park. Clearwater police remembered four fallen officers — Patrolman Harry L. Conyers Jr., Patrolman Peter M. Price, Patrolman John F. Passer and Patrolman Ronald J. Mahony.
The ceremony included the presentation of flowers to the family members of the fallen, as well as the ringing of the remembrance bell, the riderless horse, a bagpiper, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
To help honor law enforcement officers during National Police Week, Largo police joined the FBI Tampa Citizens Academy Alumni Association to Paint the Town Blue.
Largo Police encouraged residents and businesses to show their support by lighting the city up in blue.
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