“It’s a huge loss”: Lakeland police chief, department mourns death of longtime officer

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland police officer is being remembered as a longtime public servant with a positive attitude and a dedication to his community.

Officer Ken Foley, 57, died while on duty in Lakeland on Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

“He was a guy that never met a stranger, he was always happy to see folks. He left you better than he found you,” said Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia.

He spent 29 years with Lakeland Police and served 8 years in the Marine Corps.

Chief Garcia knew Officer Foley for three decades, going on calls with him and attending training sessions together.

Foley spent the last 20 years working the dayshift on patrol, usually in north Lakeland.

“I spoke with him not long ago about retirement. He still felt like he had a few good years left in him. He wasn’t finished providing the service he wanted to provide to the community,” Chief Garcia said.

Dispatch records show Foley ate at Five Guys on Socrum Loop Road Wednesday evening around 5:30.

“When the time came to check on Officer Foley, he was not responsive to the radio,” said Chief Garcia. “It’s a very frantic time. Officers are using everything at their disposal to try to locate the officer.”

Lakeland police worked in conjunction with Polk County Sheriff’s Office to find Foley’s cruiser in the nearby Hampton Inn parking lot.

Foley was found unresponsive and taken to Lakeland Regional Health.

Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Video captured by Lakeland Police public information officer Robin Tillett shows the line of cruisers that escorted the vehicle containing Officer Foley’s body out of Lakeland Regional Health.

No foul play is suspected. It is believed he suffered a medical episode.

Foley is the first Lakeland police officer to die in the line of duty since Officer Arnulfo Crispin was killed in December 2011.

“Foley served with the Lakeland Police Department for 29 years. That’s 29 years dedicated to protecting & serving our community. This is truly heartbreaking. My heart goes out to his family & Lakeland PD. God bless you all,” tweeted Rep. Ross Spano.

Officials are now combing through calls Foley responded to in recent days to see if anything may have impacted his health.

“It’s certainly a loss. It’s a loss in our law enforcement family, it’s a loss in our community. I certainly feel the loss of it,” said Chief Garcia.

Lakeland Police is working with Foley’s family on funeral arrangements.


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