JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Dan Watts Jr. is following in his father’s footsteps toward a career in law enforcement, honoring the man who died in the line of duty last year.
Sgt. Daniel Watts Sr., 49, died on Sept. 1 from COVID-19 complications.
The younger Watts is currently enrolled in the police academy in Gainesville and said he sees his dad in himself.
“Mannerisms, and stuff that I say and how I act. A lot of times I look in the mirror and see it,” Watts Jr. told News4JAX on Wednesday after a memorial ceremony in Jacksonville Beach honoring fallen law enforcement officers.
Watts Jr. said his father was always happy.
“He loved me and my little brothers to death and he wanted nothing else for us than to be happy,” Watts Jr. said.
He said can’t forget his dad being the life of the party, always being there to help anyone who needed it and never hesitating to have some fun, just like during the family’s last vacation before his father’s death.
“He comes in, ‘Hey, wake up.’ Huh? ‘Wake up. We are going to play Pac-Man’ -- at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Watts Jr. remembered with a laugh.
His father served as an officer for 23 years.
“I already knew the kind of person he was and the impact he had on people and hearing it is something I expected,” Watts Jr. said. “It’s just the kind of person he was.”
Watts Sr.’s name was added to the headstone at the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, next to a flag and a wreath of flowers.
During the ceremony, seven blue roses honored not only Watts Sr. but six other men who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty last year for local law enforcement agencies.
The Jacksonville Beach ceremony also remembered the lives of Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers, who was shot and killed last September during a traffic stop, and five other officers who died from COVID-19 complications:
- Auxiliary Sgt. Louis Livatino, who served with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and died Jan. 21 last year
- Nassau County Deputy Jack Gwynes, who died on Feb. 3 last year
- St. Johns County Deputy Jody Hull Jr., who died Aug. 21
- Clay County Deputy Clint Seagle, who died Aug. 29
- Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot, who died last September
JBPD Sgt. Tonya Tator said Watts Sr. was one of a kind.
“Sgt. Watts was a hard worker,” Tator said. “He was out to do the right thing and always watching over his brothers and sisters to make sure anything that we got into or we were doing was as safely as we possibly could.”