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Fallen officers honored at Tampa police ceremony

Maren Stradley, 3, niece of slain police Officer David Curtis, places a rose on the memorial for fallen officers outside of the Tampa Police Department during a ceremony Wednesday. Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab were killed June 29, 2010.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Maren Stradley, 3, niece of slain police Officer David Curtis, places a rose on the memorial for fallen officers outside of the Tampa Police Department during a ceremony Wednesday. Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab were killed June 29, 2010.

TAMPA — As Tampa police honored the 31 fallen officers in the agency's history, two new widows sat near the granite memorial bearing their husbands' names.

It's been 10 months since Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were fatally shot during an early morning traffic stop.

And although tears flowed at Wednesday's annual Tampa Police Memorial Service, there was something else — something missing during the summer services and absent in courthouse hearings.

Smiles.

After the service, surrounded by police support, the women found smiles. No grins, but small signs the pain isn't quite as raw.

Sara Kocab and Kelly Curtis posed for pictures with one of Curtis' four sons. He wore his father's police hat.

Cynthia Roberts, wife of Cpl. Mike Roberts, who was fatally shot in Sulphur Springs in 2009, also attended the ceremony.

So did Bryan Reese Jr., 75, who bears the name of the father he never met. Reese was born about two months after his father was fatally shot Aug. 29, 1935.

Tearfully, he said he doesn't know how his father's death affected him.

"You can't miss what you never had," he said.

When police Chief Jane Castor addressed the crowd, she said that nothing is worse than losing an officer in the line of duty.

Her heart goes out to the widows, she said, but it breaks for the children.

Curtis left behind four young boys. Roberts had one son.

After the shooting, Castor said she took two of Curtis' sons to the police gym, where their father worked out.

"It didn't take much to assure them that their dad was, in fact, the strongest man at the gym," she said. "It was all I could do to hold back the tears."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Fallen officers honored at Tampa police ceremony 05/04/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 11:47pm]
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