Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Friday honoring recently fallen Tampa Bay law enforcement officers with memorial highway designations.
That measure (SB 1716) names sections of roadways across the area after three fallen officers and will erect road markers to memorialize them. The designations honor Pinellas County Deputy Michael J. Magli, Hillsborough County Sergeant Brian LaVigne, and Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen.
The Governor, who has waved the law and order flag, was joined by law enforcement and the surviving family of those officers at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“What we do here today, I know, is not going to unring the bells, but I do think that it’s an appropriate recognition, and I think it’s a signal to say we’re not going to forget their sacrifices,” DeSantis said. “We’re not going to forget what they did to protect our communities.”
The designations will take effect July 1.
“A hero remembered never dies,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, noting that tens of thousands of commuters will see the memorial signs every day.
“We’re not perfect, and we don’t claim to be, but we are people who care, and we’ll lay it all on the line for others, including the risk that one of our names ends up in that Memorial that sits in front of this building.
Magli was killed in February by a drunken driver while trying to stop him. Magli was the first Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty.
The bill renames a portion of County Road 611, East Lake Road in Pinellas County, in honor of Magli.
He is survived by his wife and two young daughters.
Stephanie Magli, his wife, hoped the fallen officers would be remembered as “superheroes” by future generations.
“In years to come, as we travel with our families, I can tell my girls we’re on daddy’s road, and we could talk about stories while we’re driving down that road,” she said.
While serving in his final days before retirement, LaVigne was killed in January after a suspect intentionally rammed into his vehicle during a car chase.
The bill renames a portion of State Road 60 in Hillsborough County in his honor.
He is survived by his wife and two adult children — one of whom, Caitlin LaVigne, is also a deputy with the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.
“Not only is she following his legacy, she’s doing a heck of a job creating her own serving our community,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
Madsen died in March after colliding with a wrong-way drunken driver on Interstate 275, likely saving others on the road. A portion of that freeway will be named in his honor.
Madsen, an Army reservist and former Marine, served more than 16 years with the Tampa Police Department. He is survived by his wife and three young children.
“They will get through this because they don’t have a choice,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Duggan said. “But they’re also going to get through this because of things like this, that shows their support for law enforcement and their families.”
House Speaker Chris Sprowls hails from Pinellas County. The Palm Harbor Republican didn’t attend the event, but, in a statement, he thanked lawmakers for creating tributes to the three officers.
“Deputy Magli, Sergeant LaVigne, and Officer Madsen’s final acts were to save lives in the communities they loved. While no law can replace nor any honorific soothe the loss of life in the hearts of those who loved them, I hope that the naming of these roads may provide comfort to their families that the memory of these heroes will live on long after their time on earth,” Sprowls said.