TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day, and some of the best and bravest were recognized at the state Capitol on Wednesday morning for their heroic efforts.
Eight officers were nominated for the 2017 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Fort Meyers Detective Wolfgang Daniel was recognized for his pivotal role in taking down 22 members of a gang known as the Lake Boyz.
“Detective Daniel was the foundation of this investigation,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said.
Volusia County Deputy Justin Ferrari’s act of heroism came during a response to a domestic dispute in which a woman was shot by her partner.
“They could hear the female victim screaming for help,” Bondi said.
Ferrari’s daring rescue was captured on his bodycam. Jumping into the line of fire, he pulled the injured woman and her three children to safety.
Taking home the title of the 2017 Officer of the Year was Orlando police Lt. Scott Smith, for his actions during the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Smith organized and led a party into the club and exchanged fire with the gunman.
“SWAT team members, including Lt. Smith, returned fire, killing the monster,” Bondi said.
Smith's advice to other officers was, "Love what you do."
“Enjoy serving the public and helping people and that's what it comes down to. It comes down to that desire to help people,” Smith said.
Special recognition was also given to five Florida police officers who lost their lives since the start of 2018.
The ceremony comes just one day after Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry was laid to rest.
In 2017, nine Florida officers lost their lives in the line of duty.