TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Police Department paid tribute to fallen officers during National Police Week, honoring 32 of their own who died in the line of duty.
TPD lost its first officer back in 1895, and sadly, the most recent was just two months ago on March 9 when Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen sacrificed his own life to stop a wrong-way driver.
The City of Tampa is now lit up blue, including the bridges and buildings along the Hillsborough River. The community and the city held a ceremony Tuesday night, an intensely emotional moment to honor the men and women of the Tampa Police Department.
One by one, the names of heroes for read aloud in front of police headquarters downtown. They are heroes who gave their lives serving and protecting the city they loved.
“This has not been an easy time for law enforcement,” said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan. “I worry about my officers, knowing how much they’re gone through. It’s good for all of us to get together once again, to be by each other’s side in person.”
These guardians of the thin blue line included Officer William D. Krikiva who served as a member of the motorcycle unit in the 1960s. He had the distinction of protecting President John F. Kennedy in his motorcade during a trip to Tampa.
Officer Krikava lost his life in the line of duty on January 1, 1965. His daughter, Tammy, was only seven years old when she lost her father.
“It was very hard over the years to come to accept it and move on. Coming here, it’s nice to hear his name,” Tammy said after the ceremony at TPD Headquarters on Tuesday night.
She says it feels like just yesterday that he was dropping her off at Ballast Point Elementary School.
“Every day when you see a police officer, it should just give you inspiration,” she explained. “They are there, and without them, it’s bleak.“
As the department honors their own, they also continue to mourn one of their own, Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen who died in the line of duty just months ago while protecting others.
It was Officer Madsen who sacrificed his own life to stop the wrong-way driver from taking another life.
Officer Madsen’s brother, Jay, attended the ceremony Tuesday. He stood alongside family members, including the fallen officer‘s wife, Daniele, and children.
“We are left with a sense of pride,” he explained. “I can’t ask for anything more. Pride is the word of the day,” Jay told 8 On Your Side.
The Tampa Police Department is filled with heroes, and the city is filled with gratitude. On this night, the ceremony was a special moment for this community, honoring the 32 lives who died in the line of duty, 32 lives he will never be forgotten.
If you would like to learn more about the 32 Tampa Police Officers killed in the line of duty you can visit the city’s website.