LUTZ, Fla. - On a weekend when we typically honor America's freedom, Tampa Bay paused to honor two men who died protecting our community.
In a ceremony fit for heroes, thousands packed Idlewild Baptist Church to remember Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis Saturday. In the early morning last Tuesday, the lives were tragically cut short during a traffic stop that went horribly wrong. .
"It's just impossible to make sense of the loss of these fine officers," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor told mourners during the service.
Nearly 5,000 people packed the church. Some were dignitaries like Governor Charlie Crist, some were fellow law enforcement from agencies acros the country, some as far as away as California.
Still others were complete strangers to the officers.
The large turnout was a testament of the number of lives Officers Kocab and Curtis touched.
"There are those who question why anyone would go into the field of law enforcement for those of us involved we couldn't imagine doing anything else." Castor said.
For the two slain officers, being a cop wasn't a job, it was a calling. They were zone partners on squad 306 and were both rising stars on the force.
They were well respected and much loved as was evident by the enormous crowd that attended their service and words from their friends.
Kocab's friend and Reverend, Jeffrey Howell, remembered him as an energetic, loving husband who "loved what he did."
Those feelings were shared by Officer Charlie Helm, a former co-worker at the Plant City Police Department.
"I never met anyone in this line of work who loved the job more than him," Helm said.
Friends remembered Officer David Curtis as a "mountain of a man" who loved his wife, children and job.
"He was an amazing, son, brother, husband, father, uncle, in-law, police officer and friend," John Hays, the pastor at St. Anne Catholic Church in Plant City said.
During her remembrance, Mayor Pam Iorio said if Officers Kocab and Curtis would've "been given the gift of longevity," they "would have undoubtedly risen in the ranks."
Even though his friend is no longer working the streets of Tampa, Helm looked Tuesday's tragic events a bit differently that you might expect.
"If you think about it, as long as we continue to walk with God, Jeff's there with us." Helm explained, "Kocab didn't really die, he was promoted and given a new zone partner."
He also described Kocab as someone with a zest for life who was an excited father to be.
"The last few times we spoke, he was so anxious about having his baby." Helm said. "He said to me how will I know when Sara's in labor? I said I don't know I've never been in labor".
David Curtis was already the proud father of four boys.
Officer Dave Michelson told mourners, "He'd tell his boys Austin,Sean, Tyler and Hunter, daddy isn't going anywhere he'll always be along side of them."
And there's no doubt the memory of these two fallen heroes will always be in the hearts of their family, their fellow law enforcement and of the entire community they so proudly served.
"Today we say goodbye to officer David Curtis and officer Jeff Kocab but it not the last day we will remember their service and sacrifice." Castor said.
The funeral closed with words from Pastor Ken Whitten from Idlewild Baptist Church. "Jeffrey and David have demonstrated to us that a life has fallen but is not forgotten...and may we never forget them."
Officer Jeffrey Kocab is survived by his wife Sara and soon-to-be born daughter.
Officer David Curtis is survived by his wife Kelly and four sons, ages 9, 6, 5 and 8-months-old.
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