TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Following in his father's footsteps, a New Port Richey man became a law enforcement officer on Wednesday.
Andrew Kondek graduated from Pasco-Hernando State College Law Enforcement Academy.
His father, Charlie Kondek, was a Tarpon Springs police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2014. He also served in the New York City police department.
"He didn't tell me at first," said Teresa Kondek, Charlie's widow and mother of Andrew. "He kept it quiet for a while, but he finally was honest with me."
A mother is always in a difficult position when her son volunteers for such a dangerous job. For Teresa, it's one where she's already been through the ultimate sacrifice.
"My answer was no," Teresa said with a smile. "But he's really passionate about it. I guess he's thought about it for a while. And after losing his father, he was more than ready to follow his father's footsteps. So i'm proud of him."
Andrew said when he saw the response to his father's death, he was drawn to law enforcement.
"Seeing how much my dad loved to work, and serve his community," Andrew said. "Seeing how much the community cared about him."
It took him about three months to tell his mother.
"She was upset at first, understandably."
But once she saw her son was serious, he said she backed him 100%.
After the official ceremony ended Wednesday and the 22 graduates left the stage, Teresa and her other children joined Andrew on the stage.
She presented him with his father's handcuffs, taken from him the night he died.
Engraved on the side were the words, "Andy, Pray and be safe. Love you, Dad."
"Matthew 5:9" was also enscribed:
- Blessed are the peacemakers:
- for they shall be called the children of God.
Andrew is not sure with which law enforcement agency he would like to work, but he is hoping to stay in the Tampa Bay area.
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