POLK COUNTY, Fla. - The sound of "Taps" cut through the silence of the Oak Hill Cemetery in Polk County Wednesday morning as friends, family, Lakeland police officers and other law enforcement personnel paid their respects one year later to the officer they say were taken from them way too soon.
Officer Arnulfo Crispin, badge number 267, killed one year ago today, November 19, 2011 in the line of duty. The 25-year-old had only been with the Lakeland Police Department for 18 months before being fatally shot in a Lakeland neighborhood park. The area he frequently patrolled. He walked up to a group of teens to tell them the park was closed. After a short exchange, he went to search each of them, but when he got to then 19-year-old Kyle Williams, police say Williams pulled out a gun and shot Crispin.
Officer Crispin's brother, Frankie Crispin, says the family will never forget what happened to his brother, but that they are slowly moving to a better place.
"We've made a lot of progress," says Frankie. "I personally have made a lot of progress. My mom and dad I can definitely see have made a lot of progress and it just really brought the family a whole lot closer together."
Frankie says he finds solace in knowing his brother was living his dream, something he talked about a great deal before being sworn in. Being a police officer, protecting people who needed protecting. Serving those who needed to be served. He adds with losing his brother though, he and his family have gained so much, in the form of community support.
"To us, it feels like the family just got a whole lot bigger," says Frankie.
Support the department, especially officers that worked closest with Officer Crispin, are happy to provide. They say that's exactly what the man they called Arnie, would have wanted them to do.
"We as a squad and Lakeland Police, we remind each other everyday," says Officer Carlos Cortes. "We wear this uniform, we are sworn to protect the city and Arnie's watching over us and thats what makes us stronger everyday."
Elsewhere, Kyle Williams, now 20-years-old, is scheduled to face a jury in January of 2014. He will be answering to the charge of premeditated murder in the first degree on a law enforcement officer.
But no matter what happens to Williams, Officer Crispin's legacy and that smile that everyone says they will never forget… will forever live on.