Florida Sheriff’s Association honors 30 fallen deputies
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across Florida’s 67 counties gathered Monday morning to honor their fallen brothers and sisters in uniform.
The Florida Sheriff’s Association held its annual memorial ceremony at the FSA memorial wall, commemorating those 30 deputies that died in the line of duty in 2021.
According to FSA President and Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum, it’s been a tragic two years for law enforcement. He says deputies already risk their lives every day when responding to calls, not really knowing what they’re going to encounter when they arrive. However, he says an already difficult job became even more challenging when the pandemic hit.
“It’s terrible. I mean obviously, it’s terrible anytime anyone loses their life. But to have that many across our state and across our 67 counties in the state. It’s been a tragic 2021 and 2020 before that as well,” said Sheriff McCallum.
In a program distributed to every attendee, all 30 deputies were named, along with their department. Twenty-three out of the 30 deputies listed died from COVID-19, including a deputy from Leon County.
“I had one of my deputies, Michael Nowak, who was taken from us through COVID. People don’t realize that law enforcement, corrections officers, have to work right through all of those pandemic-kind of outbreaks,” said Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil.
Sheriff McNeil and Sheriff McCallum both said the memorial ceremony is a sad time. One to acknowledge the men and women that gave their lives trying to protect their community and the family members they left behind while doing it. However, Sheriff McCallum says the ceremony, and etching the fallen deputies’ names on the memorial wall is a sign of gratitude and a chance to remember those that are gone for their bravery.
Officials say there were nearly 600 people registered to attend the event, including deputies from across the state, family members and friends of the fallen deputies and state leaders. Each family was presented with a plaque for their fallen loved one and a representative from every sheriff’s office joined them to honor their fallen deputy.
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