The public is invited to attend Tuesday’s funeral service for Tampa Police Department Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. Doors were to open at 10 a.m.
His fellow officers said Madsen seems to have been born fearless, as if he was “wired” to save lives. He put his life on the line day after day — as a Marine, as a young police officer in Tampa and his Ohio hometown, and later as an Army reservist on a one-year deployment to Afghanistan.
Madsen was close to home when he died March 9. He intentionally drove his patrol SUV into the path of a speeding, impaired driver heading the wrong way on northbound Interstate 275, according to police, in an attempt to stop the driver and save others. Both men died on impact.
Here are highlights from the solemn celebration of the deputy’s life.
12:25 p.m. Memories from the life of Jesse Madsen
- “Wives would ask me how I was able to stop worrying about Jesse at work,” wife Danielle said, “and I would simply say, ‘He’s our Jesse.’ He was a real life John Wick or Chuck Norris. He was our Superman.”
- He was a bulldog and never made promises he couldn’t keep. His favorite flavor was purple. He loved country music, fishing and “shooting up things he never shot before” like old TVs, desktop computers and printers.
- He would laugh so loud that the dog would start barking, and despite his ability to find fish, bad guys or dangerous situations before anyone else knew they were there, he never did learn where to find the condiments in his pantry.
- A lion, a bulldog, a protector. But as tough as he was, he would let his daughter paint his toenails, and his eyes would well with tears when he laughed.
11:50 a.m. At age 10, Madsen signed ‘policeman’
Officer Madsen’s father, Bruce, spoke of his adopted son and his ability to turn any friend or acquaintance into family. He would fall asleep in his food as a toddler, was terrible as an actor in school plays, and would make his dad Mother’s Day cards, because to him dad was both parents.
When he was just 10, he asked his dad for a wallet for Christmas. As soon as he opened his gift, he went to work filling out the ID card inside.
“He carefully wrote his name, address, and for occupation he wrote, ‘Policeman.’ He never changed.”
11:45 a.m. Mayor Castor remembers fallen officer
Among those speaking at the funeral of Officer Madsen was Tampa mayor and former police chief Jane Castor, who remembered the time Madsen was unexpectedly called upon to take her friend’s son on a ride-along.
Their first call was a suicidal young woman, “very intense and drawn out.” When it was over, he told the young man that his own trip “couldn’t end like this ...
“The trip, meant to last an hour or so, lasted Madsen’s entire shift. When it was over, Madsen and the boy were fast friends. They went for coffee, kept in touch over the holidays, Madsen sent him a letter when his grandma died ... That’s who he was.
“As you have heard he’s earned eight life saving awards, including the incident that ended his life. Just to underscore the significance of that accomplishment, if pressed, I’m not sure I could name eight people who have earned one life saving award.”
11:40 a.m. Agencies come from across Tampa Bay
A host of law enforcement agencies have joined the Tampa Police Department for the funeral and ceremonies. Said one fellow officer, “The world needs more Jesses.”
11:25 a.m. Live video feed on Tampa’s Facebook page
The funeral of Officer Madsen was being shown live at the city of Tampa Facebook page. Among the music being played during breaks between speakers was Miss You All the Time by O.A.R.
11:05 a.m. Funeral services getting underway
Doors opened early for the 11 a.m. funeral and mourners filtered into Idlewild Baptist Church, the cavernous worship hall in Lutz with seating for some 5,000 people. It’s big enough to accommodate a public funeral for a man seen as a fallen hero. And it’s the third time in 56 days that the church is hosting the funeral of a law enforcement officer.
Hillsborough County sheriff’s Master Cpl. Brian LaVigne was memorialized here in January and Pinellas County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Magli, last month. Like Madsen, LaVigne and Magli died in traffic crashes.
10 a.m. ‘No one is prepared for something like that’
Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan shared his thoughts with the media before Tuesday’s funeral for Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen.
Dugan noted that this was the second law enforcement funeral in the Tampa Bay region in recent weeks.
“It’s not lost on me that just three weeks ago today we were here for a Pinellas County deputy who was killed in the line of duty,” the chief said.
It was 21 days ago that the service was held for Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael J. Magli, the 30-year-old husband and father of two who was struck and killed by an impaired and reckless driver, sheriff’s officials say, as he attempted to lay a tire-deflation in the roadway to stop the driver. That service was also held at Idlewild Baptist Church.
The chief recounted when he had to break the news to Madsen’s wife after her husband died March 9.
“Just seven days ago I was knocking on her door at 3 a.m. to deliver horrible news and just 36 hours later she’s picking out the casket for her husband and flowers,” he said. “No one is ever prepared for something like that.”
The Tampa Police Department is also struggling, Dugan said.
“There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “They’re grieving. I grieve with them. But cops are a very resilient group.
“We will bounce back and we will continue to serve and protect like we do every single day.”
What helps, he said, is seeing the community support and mourn with law enforcement.
“I think it’s important that the cops see the support they receive from the community,” Dugan said, “and I also think it’s important that the community be here so they can see that we’re human and we grieve along with them.”
8:50 a.m. Chief Dugan speaks before funeral
In advance of the funeral at 11 a.m., Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan is wrapping up comments to news crews in advance of the funeral: “It’s not lost on me that just 3 weeks ago today we were here for a Pinellas County deputy who was killed in the line of duty.”
8:40 a.m. Memorial boat parade on river
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other Tampa Bay agencies will honor three law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty with a boat parade starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa.
The three officers are Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen of Tampa Police Department, Sgt. Brian LaVigne of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Michael Magli of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Law enforcement officers will begin their tribute with a line of 16 vessels at the Platt Street Bridge heading north to represent Madsen’s 16 years of service in law enforcement. Once they arrive at Armature Works, three vessels — one representing each of the three officers — will lead their return to the Tampa Convention Center.
Here are the agencies taking part: Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, the sheriff’s offices of Manatee, Pasco and Polk, St. Petersburg Police Department, New Port Richey Police Department, and Treasure Island Police Department.
The public can view the tribute from the Tampa Riverwalk from the Platt Street Bridge north to Armature Works. Authorities asked that the public refrain from observing by boat to avoid impeding with the procession.
7:25 a.m. What to expect this morning
Tampa police announced earlier that parking for the 11 a.m. funeral is on the east side of the Idlewild campus. The dress code is business professional — all black or dark or muted colors. Everyone inside will be required to wear a face covering.
Immediately after the service, guests will be directed outside for a full honors ceremony, including a 21-gun salute, pipe and drums and the playing of Taps, the riderless horse, a flyover, flag folding ceremony, and Madsen’s final radio call.
A formal procession follows, to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. Madsen, who served as a Marine, will receive full military honors at the gravesite. This event is not open to the public.
6:30 a.m. Procession from funeral home to church
Led by more than 100 of his law enforcement colleagues, the body of Officer Madsen was transported to Idlewild Baptist Church, Spectrum Bay News 9 reported. Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan tweeted about his sad duty on the day of Madsen’s funeral.