Saluting Those Who made the Ultimate Sacrifice
May 4, 2011
Memorial Service Photo Gallery
Words from Chief Jane Castor
I look out at the large crowd gathered here today I see so many
heroes dedicated to serving our community by putting their lives on
the line every day to make our city safer. Many struggle to
understand why someone would knowingly choose a profession that is
as inherently dangerous as law enforcement- a profession that may
require you to sacrifice your life for the protection of others.
Those of us in uniform could not imagine doing anything else and our
community is grateful that there are those among us who choose to be
But today is for a different kind of hero. Today is dedicated to
those who gave everything to our community, including their lives.
We have lost 31 officers in the line of duty throughout history of
the Tampa Police Department. Their names are etched in granite as a
perpetual reminder of their service and sacrifice. But behind each
of those etchings is a person ... someone whose warm touch we could
feel, whose smile would light up a room, and whose voice we can
still hear. They gave us a life that was full of love, laughter,
friendship and guidance. Each name represents a distinct and unique
individual, whose most striking similarity was that they were taken
from us too soon.
Each year this service is filled with a myriad of emotions. This
ceremony is especially poignant for our department as Officer Dave
Curtis and Officer Jeff Kocab were so senselessly and tragically
taken from us on June 29, 2010. Both were fine officers, outstanding
individuals and dedicated family men. A few months later we lost our
friend Deputy Mark Longway who died in the line of duty with the
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Mark became a part of our
family through his assignment at the Port of Tampa. The St. Pete
Police Department is in attendance, as they are every year, to honor
our heroes. This year was especially devastating for them. Not
having lost an officer in almost 30 years, they lost three in the
span of 30 days. Today we honor them as well.
In law enforcement there is nothing more devastating than the loss
of a fellow officer. As everyone in uniform is aware, we are in the
business of fixing things. That mission is at the core of our
existence. We deal in facts, issues of right and wrong, black and
white. You will rarely find an officer in the grey. We are unable to
rationalize or find meaning in the sudden and senseless loss of an
officer. And we are helpless to change the circumstances that have
forever altered so many lives.
I have been asked how we in law enforcement can stand so strong in
what is our darkest and most painful hour. In short, it is our job
to remain strong, to be the voice of reason, when all around us is
in chaos. But make no mistake, we feel the gut wrenching sadness,
the overwhelming sense of loss, the palpable anger that one feels at
the loss of a family member. Control is lost and tears flow when we
are out of view of those we have vowed to protect.
Everyone has a unique and personal reason for being here today, but
we all share in the desire to honor the lives of those who formed
the thin blue line that divides good from evil. We all understand
that an attack on law enforcement represents a tear in the very
fabric of our community, and to stand alongside law enforcement
sends a loud, clear and unified message to the small dangerous
element of our society. Law enforcement in the Tampa Bay area
appreciates the unyielding support of each of you here today and the
thousands of others who stand by our side in good times and bad.
As I look into the crowd I also see the family members of those who
have fallen. It is truly for you that we gather here today.
To surround you in a circle of support and honor, promising to be at
your side forever more. We have never pretended to know the depth or
breath of your loss. From the moment you received the news, your
lives have been irreparable changed. The circumstances differ, but
each of you has suffered unimaginable pain. My heart goes out to all
of you, but it is for the children that my heart breaks. The
fundamental unfairness of having your Mom or Dad taken from you is
I still have etched in my memory the tour of the gym I took the
Curtis' boys on shortly after Daveís death. I showed them where
their Dad worked out and answered a bunch of questions. It didnít
take much to assure them that their Dad was indeed the strongest man
in the gym. It was all I could do to contain my tears.
The first time I met Sara Kocab was in the early morning of June 29,
2010. At that moment I mourned for her and her unborn daughter, as
the child would never know her Dad. It was unknown at the time that
the tragedy would grow even deeper. Today we can take some comfort
in knowing that Lilly Nicole is now in heaven with her father Jeff.
And the sight of little Adam Roberts walking aside the riderless
horse at the State's Memorial Service, dressed in a replica of his
Dad's uniform continues to be so very moving. Seeing him this year,
the uniform shirt a few inches too short for his growing arms, was a
gentle reminder that life goes on.
And while we tend to encompass our pain and sorrow in the most
recent of losses, I assure you that the pain does not ebb and the
memories do not fade with time. Marshall Joseph S. Walker served the
City of Port Tampa as the Town Marshall for 16 years. He was shot
and killed on November 25, 1915 when he encountered an individual
who was involved in a domestic disturbance. Ninety-five years later,
his grandson James C. Walker and his wife Helen are in attendance
today to honor his memory. On August 29, 1935, 30 year old Officer
Bryan A. Reese was shot and killed in the line of duty. Today his
son Bryan Reese Jr and grandson Bryan Reese III, are also in
attendance at this memorial service. Neither ever had the
opportunity to meet their namesake, as his son was born shortly
after his death. However, they have both traveled a great distance
to honor his sacrifice. We welcome you and all of the other family
members here today.
As long as we draw breath we will remember and honor those who
sacrificed their life in protection of our community. But long after
we are gone, they will live on as their names are forever etched in
We all question why bad things happen to good people. And we have
all asked God to change the circumstances and bring our loved ones
back. We understand that there are no answers for our questions or
granting of our wishes. We must simply accept that we cannot change
that which has already passed. We can however, promise to carry on
the legacy of those who go before us. It may be through a memorial
service such as this, through our daily actions, or it can be as
simple as a story or thought that never fails to bring a smile.
Today, we feel sadness over the loss of such fine men and women. But
we should leave from here filled with pride for the service and
sacrifice of those who have fallen, joy for the time that we had
with them, knowledge that their service made a difference and a hope
that their names will be the last to be etched in granite.
May God bless and keep you all safe.