POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – At his funeral Wednesday, a Lakeland police officer was remembered for his years of service and his smile.
“It was a Paul smile. On the outside it looked like he was a rough and tough marine but you knew he was smiling on the inside and he’d always crack a little grin,” said Lakeland Lt. Doug Brown.
Dunn died last Thursday after crashing his police motorcycle on Lakeland Highlands Road. Polk County detectives have said no evidence shows any other vehicles were involved.
Dunn, 50, served with Lakeland Police for five years. He previously served with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Ocoee Police Department.
“Paul you were as close to an older brother to me as it gets. You will never be replaced. You will never be forgotten,” said Ross Addeo, Dunn’s close friend and former colleague at the Ocoee Police Department.
Dunn was also a former U.S. Marine.
“Paul, he was a cop’s cop, a marine’s marine. He was a good man to have around in tough times. He will be remembered as a hometown hero,” said Chief Ruben Garcia.
“Under all his gruffness was one of the most compassionate and caring human beings I had ever met,” said his colleague and friend at Lakeland Police, Sgt. Jason Perez.
Sgt. Perez provided some of the lighter moments in the service, including the fact that Dunn bought his new wife a weed eater for Christmas and his love for his pets.
“The same hardcore marine veteran warrior with an addiction for working out developed a most curious affinity for cats… a lot of cats,” said Sgt. Perez.
Dunn is survived by his three adult children: a son who is a Marine, another son who joined the Navy and a daughter, who is studying to be a nurse and is a soon-to-be bride.
“He was so incredibly proud of them. He wanted to be so involved in their lives from the time they were little,” said Rev. Lee Lallance, a Lakeland Police Department Chaplain.
Dunn was also a newlywed. He married a Lakeland Police detective two months ago.
“On the day of his wedding, I could see in his eyes that he had reached the end of his rainbow,” said Sgt. Perez. “He saw something within Laura that righted his world and negated every piece of adversity he had ever encountered in his life. The sun rose and set on her.”
Dunn was the second Lakeland officer to die in the line of duty.
Officer Ken Foley died Dec. 4 after being found unresponsive in his cruiser.