Tributes continue to pour in for a long-time Tampa Police officer who died over the weekend. Master Patrol Officer Fred Arnold III died Saturday following a SCUBA diving accident in Nevada. He was a 27 year veteran of TPD.
During a news conference Monday, one of his children said, "We knew my dad was a hero and he's always going to be our hero...He was a very supportive soul and a very bright soul."
His children called him a "constant" in their lives, with an infectious smile and laugh.
Tim Murphy saw Tampa Police Master Patrol Officer Fred Arnold like a brother. Murphy says the he and Fred became friends in a pretty unique way.
"July 4, 2013. We had a burglary, robbery, and everything else over in garage three," said Murphy.
That parking garage is owned by the property management company Murphy works for. MPO Fred Arnold was one of the TPD officers who responded. A few months later, the suspect allegedly tried to put a hit out on the prosecutor and Murphy, and Murphy says Officer Arnold went above and beyond the call of duty.
"Fred came by and said, 'Tim, are you alright? Are you going to be okay?' He was very concerned that I was going to get shot," said Murphy.
Murphy says that was really the start of a something amazing. Ofc. Arnold started to stop by regularly at his office and other Ybor City businesses, just to say hello, and make sure everything was okay.
"We never had a good relationship with Tampa Police until Fred and Shawn came here and actually communicated with us. And of course our crime went down and everything else when we started communicating," Murphy said.
Last year, Ofc. Arnold got transferred to Tampa Palms, the neighborhood where Tim Murphy lives. The two had coffee together at 5 a.m. almost every day. He says Arnold never really "clocked out". He spent off duty time working security at Tampa Theatre and a local auto auction.
And Arnold volunteered countless hours mentoring at-risk youth through the Tampa Police Explorers program.
"The long term effect of fred will be felt in the community for years because he cared about the kids. He actually cared about adults," Murphy said.
To Murphy, there will never be anyone else like him.
"He put his heart and soul into being a good, solid community leader as well as a police officer. That cannot be replaced today," said Murphy.
But it's clear MPO Arnold's impact will live on.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn released the following statement on the officer's death.
"Fred's entire City of Tampa family is mourning, his service to the city of Tampa was unparalleled and he leaves behind a lasting legacy. I never saw him without a smile and he treated everyone he dealt with that same warmth and respect. My heartfelt condolences go out to Fred's family."
Funeral arrangements for Master Patrol Officer Fred Arnold are still pending.