Law enforcement community, family and friends remember Connell

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A dramatic display outside of a Tallahassee church was held on Friday as part of the final farewell for a long time leader in law enforcement.

The memorial was for Chris Connell, the Director of Capitol Police, who died suddenly at Shands Hospital in Gainesville after a brief illness.

One of Connell's brothers said Connell would not want people to be sad about his death. People were naturally sad, but expressed happiness to have known and loved someone like Connell.

The brother also said Connell didn't want a big funeral; that was impossible. So many people loved and admired him.

Thomasville Road Baptist Church was packed with law enforcement officers, dignitaries, family and friends.

All who spoke described him as a professional, hard worker and a true friend.

Richard L. Swearingen, the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, says this isn't just a tough loss, but a shocking one.

"Chris is a year younger than I am. To see somebody go so young in life, with so much more to accomplish. He was a great man," Swearingen said. "He's going to be missed by his entire law enforcement family. So he impacted this entire community."

Friends and co-workers say Connell was dependable, and demanded respect and quality work from others and himself.

Interim TPD Chief Steve Outlaw worked with Connell for about 27 years, and knew him for about 40.

"He was unflappable. Just very consistent as a person in his relationships, but also as a leader. As a performer, he was a cop's cop. He was just a fantastic person." He said.

Governor Ron DeSantis, Senator Rick Scott, and other state and local officials were in attendance.

Connell was 59-years-old and is survived by his wife, Carla, and his children, Michael and Kristen.

He spent over 30 years working in law enforcement. Before working at the Florida Capitol as police director, he retired from the Tallahassee Police Department in 2014 after 28 years of service.

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