Florida Sheriffs Association honors fallen deputies at memorial wall ceremony

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'Daily, these men and women put on a uniform, a gun and a badge to enforce the laws that we as citizens deem are important to protect us all.'

The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) held a ceremony Monday to honor 30 Sheriff’s officers who died in the line of duty, most of whom died in 2021.

The ceremony marked the adding of the officer’s names to the FSA’s memorial wall, which honors the 418 Sheriff’s deputies who died in the line of duty from 1844 to 2021. It was attended by family of the deceased, local and state political officials, the Sheriffs of almost every county, and hundreds of Sheriff’s officers from across the state.

FSA Executive Director Steve Casey and Levy County Sheriff and FSA President Bobby McCallum oversaw the ceremony. Speaker Chris Sprowls gave a keynote speech.

Near the beginning of the event, McCallum said 63 out of Florida’s 67 counties have at least one name on the wall. He said their family members know their sacrifice.

“The families who have loved ones on this wall knew that their deputy dedicated each day of their life to protect others,” McCallum said. “This life of uncertainty is the reason our law enforcement officers are respected. Daily, these men and women put on a uniform, a gun and a badge to enforce the laws that we as citizens deem are important to protect us all.”

Before Sprowls gave his speech, McCallum applauded the Speaker’s record, including sponsoring legislation to improve criminal justice data transparency, DNA privacy and “bills to protect communities and law enforcement from violent mobs.”

“We have had no better friend, a better supporter of law enforcement in this state as a legislator, than Speaker Chris Sprowls,” he said.

Speaker Chris Sprowls talks about his experience as a law enforcement kid and why memorializing our heroes is important at FSA’s law enforcement memorial ceremony.

Sprowls said it has been a difficult year and a half for law enforcement. He said ceremonies like the one he was speaking at reminded him of the ones his father, who was a law enforcement officer, took him to as a child.

“I thought my dad took me when I was a little kid because he felt like he was kindred spirits with every law enforcement officer, even if they didn’t know him. What took me a little bit longer to realize as I got older, is that it wasn’t just about being a kindred spirit or being part of a family, that there was a larger lesson there. That he was trying to teach me a lesson about honor, sacrifice, and devotion,” Sprowls said.

He said the memorial wall isn’t just a place to remember those who gave their lives, but to mark their heroism and make it aspirational to others.

“Every generation to succeed must have individuals who are willing to stand up, who are willing to do the unthinkable and do the impossible to defend someone else that they never met, because they swore an oath to do so. That is their legacy. That is the fruit that continues to bear for generations to come,” Sprowls said.

Sumter County Sheriff Bill Farmer, FSA Executive Director Steve Casey, and FSA President and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum watch Speaker Chris Sprowls give his keynote address during the ceremony.

After the speeches, family members of the deceased were escorted up by the Sheriff from their county to receive a bouquet of flowers and a plaque that contained an etching of their relative’s name. The audience was silent as the mourners walked up one by one, stopping for a photo with McCallum and fighting back tears.

Most of the Sheriff’s officers who died in 2021 were killed by COVID-19. Twenty-three of the officers died after contracting the virus while working. Four died of heart attacks, three in vehicle accidents or assaults and one from gunfire. 

These are the Sheriff’s officers who were honored:

– St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Coby Seckinger

– Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brian Faison 

– Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Brian LaVigne

– Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jacinto Navarro, Jr

– Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Sergeant Louis Livatino 

– Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jack Gwynes

– Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Magli

– Broward County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Shane Owens

– Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Captain Mark Elam

– Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Carlos Hernandez

– Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Craig Seijos 

– Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Lonny Hempstead 

– Leon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Nowak 

– Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Steven Mazzotta

– Pasco Sheriff’s Office Detective Raymond Williamson

– St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jody Hull, Jr.

– Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Harry Cieszynski, Jr.

– Polk County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Broadhead

– Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Douglas Clark

– Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Webb

– Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Luciano

– Clay County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clint Seagle

– Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy William Diaz

– Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tommy Breedlove

– Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Neau

– Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joshua Moyer

– Bay County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tony Bruce

– Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Deputy  Joshua Welge

– Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Francesco Celico

– Collier County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Steven Dodson

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


One comment

  • Wayne Spencer

    April 29, 2022 at 8:47 am

    When and Where?

Comments are closed.


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