On April 2, Valencia College’s Criminal Justice Institute honored six graduates who have died in the line of duty.
In a somber ceremony at the Criminal Justice Institute auditorium, a crowd of recruits and members of the law enforcement community recognized the service of Orlando police officers Robert Montgomery and Tanja King, and Orange County deputies Michael Callin, Brandon Coates, Sebastian Diana and Jonathan Scott Pine.
“On this solemn occasion, we gather to pay tribute to law-enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. Although the number of officers killed in the line of duty has dropped across the nation, Demings noted that Central Florida’s law enforcement community is reeling from the recent murders of two officers. “We pledge to never forget them and all the other brothers and sisters have paid the ultimate price,” Demings said. “And for all of you who put on a gun and badge every day to protect your fellow citizens, know that you have the love and respect of a grateful community.”
Since Valencia College took the reins of the Criminal Justice Institute from Mid-Florida Tech in 1996, six graduates have died in the line of duty. Two of the officers worked for the Orlando Police Department, and four worked for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Jeff Goltz, public safety director for Valencia College, honored the fallen officers. In recent months, two former Valencia students were killed in the line of duty. Orange Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Pine was killed on Feb. 11 in west Orange County while investigating car break-ins and Windermere Police Officer Robbie German was killed in west Orange County on March 22 by two runaways.
Since August 2010, Valencia College has saluted its fallen graduates and held a ceremony at the fallen officers’ memorial, located outside the CJI building. This memorial, says Goltz, serves as a daily reminder to students, visitors, and staff at the Criminal Justice Institute that many officers may have lost their lives in the line of duty, but they will never be forgotten.
“The CJI staff and I feel that these ceremonies are very important for our recruits as they begin to understand the culture, the brotherhood and sisterhood of the criminal justice profession, and the importance of honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” Goltz said.
Two of the fallen officers, Michael Callin and Brandon Coates, have been memorialized with scholarship funds, which are awarded to students attending Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute.