By Michael McKinley, Apopka Chief of Police, and Randy Fernandez, Apopka Deputy Chief of Police
There is no doubt that we are fortunate to have a wonderful community. We are reminded, almost daily, of the encouragement, this community pours upon the men and women of the Apopka Police Department. From baskets of food being delivered to the station, to school kids writing and sending thank you cards, to our local churches praying for our officers’ safety, this community surrounds its law enforcement officers with tremendous support.
Next week is National Law Enforcement Memorial Week. May 15th is the day dedicated by John F. Kennedy in 1962 to recognize all law enforcement officers that gave their lives for their community. We humbly ask this community to take a moment and reflect upon the loss of the 129 law enforcement officers killed across this country last year. Unfortunately, so far this year we have seen an average of more than one officer per week killed by gunfire.
Less than a month ago, Sergeant Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey from Gilchrist County, Florida (pictured above), were gunned down while eating dinner. Gilchrist County has about 20,000 residents, about half that of the City of Apopka. Just a few days ago, Highlands County Deputy Sheriff William Gentry was killed by a convicted felon. This goes to show the death of a law enforcement officer can happen anywhere. It is important to remember; the police are here for you.
There are more than 21,000 names etched upon the walls at the law enforcement memorial in Washington D.C. and, sadly, this year more Florida law enforcement officers will have their names etched into the wall. 2017 was a dreadful year for Central Florida law enforcement. Orlando Police Officer Lieutenant Debra Clayton was killed in the line of duty, and during the search for her killer, Deputy Norman Lewis lost his life in a vehicle crash. Shortly thereafter, Matthew Scott Baxter and Samuel Howard, both officers from Kissimmee, were brutally and senselessly murdered.
We humbly ask for your continued support of the men and women who help defend this community. We ask that next week, and through the rest of the year, this community prays for the protection of our officers, and all the officers across the State of Florida, and across this great nation. Pray they have compassion, strength, wisdom, and most importantly, the courage to continue to protect all of us.