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'The world is a little sadder without him' | Community says goodbye to Lakeland police officer Paul Dunn

“Under all his gruffness was one of the most compassionate human beings I have ever met.”
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jan 15, 2020

LAKELAND, Fla. -- It was a solemn, yet familiar goodbye at Lakes Church in Lakeland.

For the second time in about a month, the Lakeland Police Department laid to rest one of its own officers.

The Lakeland community first said goodbye to Officer Ken Foley, who passed away during a medical episode in his police cruiser. On Wednesday, hundreds of first responders from around the state showed up to pay their respects to Motor Officer Paul Dunn.

Many who knew Officer Dunn said he was much more than a colleague but a friend.

“The only real legacy is a man ever leaves is his lasting influencing on others. Paul Dunn was able to create his legacy in an incredibly short amount of time,” Sgt. Jason Perez, an officer at the Lakeland Police Department said.

Sgt. Perez gave a memorable, enduring yet humorous eulogy of his friend and co-worker Officer Dunn.

A speech Perez says Officer Dunn’s widow, Laura, had asked him to give.

“Under all his gruffness was one of the most compassionate human beings I have ever met,” Sgt. Perez said.

Sgt. Perez described Officer Dunn as a heavily-tattooed teddy bear, with his tough presence and a good heart.

According to the Lakeland Police Department, Officer Paul Dunn was just 50 years old and had served in law enforcement for more than 20 years.

Dunn had been with LPD since 2013. Before that, he worked at Ocoee Police Department for two years and more than a decade for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

On January 9, 2020, two women spotted Officer Dunn’s motorcycle in the middle of the road with its flashers on.

One woman was a deputy’s wife who called for help, another was a nurse practitioner who gave Officer Dunn CPR.

The nurse practitioner told PCSO that Dunn had a faint pulse at first but it quickly faded away.

Officer Dunn was married to an LPD detective, Laura, whom he had just married on November 15, 2019.

“He saw something within Laura that righted his world and negated every piece of adversity he had ever encountered in his life. The sun rose and set on her,” Sgt. Perez recounted their wedding day.

He leaves behind three adult children. Two sons who are serving in the military and a daughter who would graduate college soon and get married herself.

Dunn also leaves behind two stepdaughters, whom he treated like his own.

“The world is a little sadder without him,” Sgt. Perez said.

A second officer stood in front of the packed worship center at Lakes Church to remember Officer Dunn.

He described how big of a gym rat Officer Dunn was, that he lifted extraordinary amount of weights and that he was a massive Florida Gators fan.

Despite only working on the job together for just two years at the Ocoee Police Department, Ross Addeo says Officer Dunn has left a lasting impression.

“Paul, you were as close as an older brother to me as it gets. You’ll never be replaced... I love you, bro,” Addeo said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said last Thursday it could have been an accident but it could have been caused by another vehicle as well.

For now, the Lakeland Police Department is asking for the communities cooperation in helping solve the case as well as bringing relief to Officer Dunn’s family.

“Please keep Officer Dunn’s family and all those who loved him in your thoughts and prayers as we are grieving this huge loss to our agency and our community,” an LPD spokesperson said.