Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Officer Thomas Joseph Szafranski

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Florida

End of Watch Sunday, May 24, 1981

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Officer Thomas Joseph Szafranski

Happy Birthday Tom!

Kathy Szafranski

November 13, 2021

My sister was seeing Tom’s roommate and we were both still living at our parents house at the time . The phone rang and it was his roommate calling to tell my sister what had happened. He had called her from the hospital and had refused to leave Tom . They stayed on the phone for hours trying to make sense of it all . Everyone was stunned and in shock . It was and still is one of the saddest events . His life was taken because of some low life . RIP .. you are not forgotten .

Sharon K.

October 6, 2021

As a LEO they say you carry your dark memories hidden in the crevices of your mind forever and that they can surface at any moment. It’s been forty years since Tom was Murdered and last night I dreamed about my friend and remembered his murder Like it was yesterday. I went through the Academy with Tom and he was on my squad in Patrol when he was murdered and have plenty of fond memories. I was also one of the arresting officers along with Officer Lynwood Mundy. Several weeks ago a neighboring county lost an Officer to another coward and it took several days of searching to find their suspect but they did. I guess following that case brought up old memories I had safely tucked away. I prefer to remember Tom as that Officer who always had a smile for everyone and was always fun to be around. Tom I have carried you in my heart for forty years and so thankful the Lord allowed us to find the suspects the same night. AJ

Abel “AJ” Roberts Homicide Detective
Jacksonville Sheriffs Office

October 6, 2021

Tom was the security officer at the apartment complex that I was an assistant manager, we could see his apartment and vehicle from the leasing office. On May 24, 1981 there was no police car that morning, just his red Camero. I felt that something was wrong, and soon our office phone rang with the bad news of his being shot while working downtown. After offering to assist in any way that we could, we were told that he was not going to be coming back to his apartment. Tom was always happy, friendly and helpful and loved by the renters at our apartment complex. What a horrible thing to happen to such a good officer. JSO was blessed to have him for 6 years and I am sure they expected to have him until he retired. Over the years my thoughts and prayers have been with Tom's family and friends, and all of the people that the privilege to know him. He is gone to a better place, but not forgotten.

L. T. Hartsfield

June 10, 2021

Officer Szafranski,
On today, the 40th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Jacksonville. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

May 24, 2021

As a boy I was fortunate enough to help JSO’s Magnum Force football team. As such I was around men of honor, kind and tough men, too include Officer Szafranski. I recall my father informing me of Officer Szafranski’s untimely death, and I’ll never forget the line of police vehicles in his funeral procession. In 1998 I was wearing the blue uniform, and I felt the grief differently.
Thank you for your service and the example you set!

Phillip Kearney, Special Agent
DEA (retired)

April 23, 2021

Officer Tom Szafranski was a police officer's police office. He was the embodiment of physical fitness and while he only served six (6) years with the agency he was well known, respected and liked by his peers. Tom played football for the Magnum Force Police football team and that is where I first met him as a teammate.

Tom was not a big man but was an extremely tough man and the kind you wanted by your side when you needed backup. When Tom was killed by a coward with a high powered rifle it taught this officer that we were not invincible.

I witnessed his coward's killer put to death in Florida's electric chair at Raiford on March 24th, 1998.

David L. Stevens-Chief (Retired)
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

May 6, 2020

I never knew Tom - I only became connected to the family through his brother in 2004. I have heard many stories about his compassion, humility, little eccentricities, sense of humor and a bit of a wild streak, and so he has come to live in my heart as well. I'm sorry to not have known him. The respect and love his brother has for him will never fade.

Sister in law

January 12, 2020

Having lunch in Gainesville Week before Christmas 2019 and thought of Tom. He was a couple of years older and we wrestled during my pledge days at Phi Delta Theta. Great guy. Glad they executed the sob who took him away from us.

Mike Brady
Fraternity Brother at UF

December 21, 2019

Miss you big brother!
My life is shaped around your values.

Bob Szafranski
Little Brither

July 23, 2018

Rest in peace Officer Szafranski. Your humility and courage won't be forgotten. May 24, 1981 was my mother's birthday. If she were here today she would be 94 years old. It's always tragic when our heroes and heroines do not get to grow older.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

May 17, 2017

The Sheriffs of Florida and their deputies will never forget the sacrifice you and your family made to uphold our laws and protect society.

Your name has been inscribed on the Florida Sheriffs and the National Law Enforcement Memorial and in our hearts. May you forever rest in peace.

A scripture inscribed on the Florida Sheriffs Law Enforcement Memorial:

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called the children
of God." Matthew 5:9

Executive Director Steve Casey
Florida Sheriffs Association

August 20, 2016

Time may have passed but you are not forgotten. I believe as long as someone remembers you or speaks your name, you are still with us.
Thank you for your heroism.
God Bless

Detention Officer A.Zambito

May 25, 2015

In the last few days, I've been thinking of this incident more and more often. Tom left a lasting impression on me as a young police officer's wife (Jim McMillan) and oftentimes helped ease my worries with his humor, referring to Jim and himself as "Batman and Robin". The guys in this squad were one in a million and a true band of brothers. He will never be forgotten in the hearts of many. His family became "family" to us all. Thank you to all who risk their lives selflessly each day to make our world safer.

Amy McMillan Nottingham

May 21, 2015

Tom was one of the coaches of my flag football team at Century 21 Apts. and he was just a nice, wonderful guy. I went out with him a couple of times, and he loved scrambled egg sandwiches and drove a really cool car. One of our dates was to see the Blue Brothers, I asked him being a police officer what he thinks when a movie shows the characters albeit for comedic purposes our shown flouting the law and outsmarting them. He said he took it for what it was worth and thus, not seriously. He was a good person who I will never forget and had he had more time would have made a difference in the world.

Luisa Lawrence
A friend and admirer

May 17, 2015

We will never forget the heroes who gave their all for us, and you sir are a hero. Continue to rest in peace Officer.

Deb Azure
Mother of Deputy Renee Danell Azure
EOW 08/06/02
Union County SO, Lake Butler, FL

May 24, 2012

Rest in Peace, Officer Szafranski. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

February 14, 2012

This Tuesday, May 24, 2011, will be the 30th anniversary of my friend Tom's death(May 24, 1981). I have never visited this memorial site before. How appropriate that I find it today, May 22, 2011 while researching Tom on the internet.

On behalf of Tom's family and all his friends and fellow officers, thank you to all who have taken the time to leave reflections and thank you to the staff and supporters of the "Officer Down" Memorial Page. The handsome picture of Tom warms my heart and fills me with loving memories of a true friend and dedicated law enforcement officer. I told Tom I loved him about a year before he was killed. How thankful I am for having said that. He has and will always live in a big chunk of my heart. God bless all of the families and friends of those officers who died in the pursuit of their passion.

Lt. John Boney, Jr. Retired
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

May 22, 2011

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 29th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace.

Phyllis Loya
mother of fallen officer Larry Lasater

May 24, 2010

The Badge"
He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.
He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.
Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.
He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.
His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.
He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.
And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.
But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.
Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.
Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.
So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.
In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.
Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.
Written By:
David L. Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC

October 3, 2007

This was a truly wonderful officer and person. I knew him through the Police Explorers and through relatives working with the department.

When I got the word of this incident my heart broke in two. I never will forget Tom ... and unfortunately I'll never forget the way his life was cut short so violently.

Tom - you were one in a million!!! There are many of us who will always remember you with admiration!

B Brown

August 6, 2005

I remember when this happened and think of this officer often. It happened about a week before I joined the Jacksonville Police Explorers. The officer that sponsored me was with Officer Szanfranski just minutes before the incident occured. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice to ensure our safety. May you live forever in our hearts.

Engineer McLarty
Nassau County Fire Rescue

August 3, 2005

When it happened I had only been an officer for less than a year. Perhaps that is why I thought of you often. It went away for a while but the memories returned in 1998. I sometimes think of your kin and how they are getting along now.

Tom, you are not forgotten.

David Haney, Glynn County, Ga. P.D.

TAC Officer David Haney
Glynn County, Ga. P.D.

April 15, 2004

Thank You for your service.

Inv. Michael Walker
Tallahassee Police Department

February 18, 2004

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