A retired Hernando County Sheriff’s Office deputy who had recently joined the Port Richey Police Department as a reserve officer died from COVID-19, becoming the first law enforcement officer believed to have died from the coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area.
Robert Pacchiarotti, 54, died on Jan. 14. He had been sworn in at the Port Richey Police Department on Nov. 16, but never had the opportunity to begin work, said Police Chief Cyrus Robinson.
Pacchiarotti, who had a 27-year career with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, according to his obituary, was set to join the police force working the road and also implementing training. While waiting for his fitted vest and other equipment in December, he became ill, Robinson said.
“I know that once the personnel here in the department had the opportunity to know who he was they’d be glad that he’s working with us,” said Robinson, who first met Pacchiarotti while they were both working at the Sheriff’s Office.
Since he had not started work yet in Port Richey, Robinson said Pacchiarotti couldn’t have caught the coronavirus through the police department. Though his death wasn’t considered in the line of duty, his wife was presented with an American flag at his funeral. His wife declined an interview request from the Tampa Bay Times.
In 2020, the coronavirus killed more Florida law enforcement officers than any other cause, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. At least 18 officers died statewide from complications related to the virus.
During his law enforcement career, Pacchiarotti enjoyed working with the Boy Scouts though the Sheriff’s Explorer Post program, Robinson said.
In retirement, he was working in financial management to help other law enforcement officers also prepare for retirement. He started a company called Red Shirt Training that offered concealed weapons classes, according to his obituary.
“What really impressed me about Officer Pacchiarotti is he really just wanted to serve the people,” said Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay.
Trembley said he spoke with Pacchiarotti when he showed interest in working with the city. The city has been aiming to give officers more training, Tremblay said, with which Pacchiarotti would have helped.
“It’s really a great loss to the city as he would have been a tremendous asset,” Tremblay said.
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