Law enforcement is a unique endeavor, some would call it a profession, while
most involved would say it is a calling. It is defined by service that and
attracts those who truly believe they can make a difference. We are sworn to
serve and protect. It is our duty to engage danger while others retreat. For us
it is the most rewarding career there is. But it is not without sacrifice and
that is why this police memorial service is very special to all the members of
the Tampa Police Department. A sacred, yet very difficult time, that we set
aside to honor the memory of the 29 men and women who sacrificed their lives in
service and protection of our fine city. I thank everyone in attendance for
taking time from your busy schedule to pay homage to our fallen heroes.
This year is especially poignant for our department, as Corporal Mike Robert's
life was so senselessly and tragically taken on August 19, 2009. By everyone’s
account Mike was an exceptional individual. He was the consummate police
officer; skilled, vigilant and dedicated to making a positive difference in our
community. A true and loyal friend, with an engaging personality that drew
everyone in. Most importantly he was a good family man; a wonderful husband and
a doting father.
Our pain is still raw and at times seemingly unbearable over the death of Mike.
We knew him, he was a part of our everyday lives. It is impossible to make sense
of the tragic loss of such a fine man. And maybe that is the core of our pain. In law enforcement it is our job to fix things, right that which is wrong. The
stark reality is that we cannot fix Mike's death. Nor can we fix or change the
circumstances that resulted in the other 28 names etched upon our memorial.
Names that represent fine men and women. Men and women who were vastly different
and individually defined. The one common element connecting them all into
eternity is that they died while protecting our community.
While Mike's loss is the most recent, I want to remind you of the sheer breath
and depth of the sense of loss for each of our fallen officers. We all tend to
encompass our pain and sorrow in a personal experience or friendship with an
officer who lost their life in the line of duty. However, the pain does not ebb
through the passing of time. To underscore this point, I will recognize the
family of Officer William D. Krikava. Officer Krikava was a 35 year-old patrol
officer when he responded to a burglary at a dress shop on S. Dale Mabry. He
entered the shop and was ambushed by two burglary suspects. Officer Krikava was
shot six times by one of the suspects, but was able to return fire, wounding the
suspect before he died. Officer William D. Krikava died that night, January 1,
More than 45 years after his death, the Krikava family still suffers the pain of
his loss. I spoke with his young grand son last year, who shared with me the
sorrow of never being able to know his grand father. Some years back I was at a
memorial service where a survivor recounted the Christmas Eve that he heard a
knock on the door of his home. As his mother opened the door, he watched through
the upstairs balustrades, as an officer broke the news of his father's death in
the line of duty. As this grown man, well into his 50’s recounted the memory he
broke down in tears. He was 8 years old when his father died.
The wounds will never completely heal and the void cannot be filled. To the
families of those lost in the line of duty, there are no words capable of
providing sufficient comfort. We do pledge our undying support and pray that you
take comfort in the memorial that bears your loved one's name. Made of granite
to demonstrate the strength and honor of law enforcement, a cut away image to
define the vulnerability of our chosen path, and a poignant inscription that
begs for each name etched to be the last.
We promise to gather each year, with honor and gratitude, to pay our respects to
those lost in the line of duty. And in our daily actions we will carry on the
legacy that has made this profession so honorable. As you leave this memorial
today, please remember those who have sacrificed their lives while serving our
community. They are gone from us today, but their lives and service will never