There is no greater duty that we have as law enforcement officers than to pay respect to those who have fallen in the line of duty.
There is no greater duty that we have as law enforcement officers than to pay respect to those who have fallen in the line of duty. That is why the 2019 Seminole County Law Enforcement Memorial coverage featured in this issue is a significant event for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners.
But one event isn’t the only thing we are doing to honor our friends and heroes.
For more than a year, our public affairs team has been highlighting our local heroes through in-depth videos posted on our social media sites. They’re also in the process of compiling all those stories into a single documentary to honor the SCSO VI.
It’s the least we can do for them and their families.
Each of our six heroes who’ve given their lives while wearing the SCSO uniform lived lives filled with family, friends, and dedication to serving community and country. That’s why we want to honor them by telling their stories.
Our first fallen hero, Deputy Cleveland Jacobs, was shot and killed while investigating the theft of a pair of pants on September 14, 1922. Deputy Jacobs was born into one of Chuluota’s founding families, and his descendants remain there today. Our agency, by contrast, had been in existence for just nine years.
On June 9, 1974, Corrections Deputy Robert Moore died of smoke inhalation rescuing inmates during a fire at the old Seminole County Jail. A father of four young children, Deputy Moore spent a year as a prisoner of war in Korea, served in three branches of the U.S. military, and served in two wars.
George Pfeil served his country in the United States Marine Corps and New York City Police Department before retiring to Florida. The husband and father joined our agency as a reserve deputy. On December 29, 1977, Deputy Pfeil was shot and killed during an armed robbery-in-progress at a Longwood pharmacy.
Deputy Hugh E. Thomas attended Lake Brantley High School and was sworn in by Sheriff Polk at just 19 years of age, so young that his mother Sissy had to purchase bullets for her son. Deputy Thomas was shot and killed investigating a prowler call in Geneva on March 28, 1989. County Road 46A was renamed the H.E. Thomas Jr. Memorial Highway in his honor.
On July 9, 1998, Deputy Eugene Gregory was shot and killed in his hometown of Geneva by a suspect with a documented history of mental illness. Known as “Stetson” for the distinctive cowboy hat he opted to wear on duty, Deputy Gregory specialized in community policing. His family helped champion changes in Florida law to make services to the mentally ill more readily available.
The sixth and, hopefully, our last hero to sacrifice his life, Deputy Matt Miller, served in the United States Marine Corps and Longwood Police Department before coming to our agency. Deputy Miller helped found our motors unit and throughout his career served in the brotherhood and sisterhood of motorcycle deputies. He was performing traffic enforcement when he was struck and killed on December 27, 2011.
As you will see in our upcoming documentary SCSO VI, there’s so much depth to the stories of our six fallen deputies. We must remember and honor them. They’re in our hearts every day. I am grateful for those who join us to pay respects and honor their lives in the communities that we have the privilege to serve.
Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, now in his second year leading the agency, is the 10th sheriff in the history of Seminole County. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Sheriff Lemma directs the agency’s enforcement, investigative, correctional, judicial, juvenile, and support services.
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