Neptune Beach, FL – Jacksonville Beach Police Department (JBPD) Corporal Andrew “Andy” Lavender died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday.
The 54-year-old corporal “was a larger than life ‘cop’s cop,’ who made a difference every day,” the Atlantic Beach Police Department said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “He will be greatly missed.”
Cpl. Lavender’s exact cause of death was not released.
The New York native served in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school, and later embarked on a 29-year law enforcement career, according to his obituary.
“He is remembered for being a kind man, great friend and exemplary police officer,” the tribute read. “His absence will be felt by the citizens and community of Jacksonville Beach indefinitely.”
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Smith said his department was “heartbroken” to learn of the veteran officer’s death.
“Our department has received an absolute avalanche of support from the city, other agencies, and citizens,” Chief Smith wrote. “We will make it through this together. There will be tough times ahead so please take care of ‘you’ and each other for the next few weeks.”
“I encourage you to talk to someone if you are having difficulties,” the chief urged.
Cpl. Lavender leaves behind his children, Erika, Nicolas, and Caelen, as well as his mother, siblings, numerous relatives, and “countless friends and colleagues,” according to his obituary.
“Andy would always put a smile on my face when he would walk into the starbucks that I work at,” Kobey Silver wrote on the corporal’s memorial page. “He would shake everyones hand and everybody else would have that same smile as I did.”
“He was caring, genuine, funny, and a great guy,” Silver added. “I will always remember him in the best of ways because there was no other way, he was a good soul and he will be missed by many.”
In another memorial post, Matt Robinson said that he and Cpl. Lavender worked together on the SWAT team, in patrol, and in the narcotics division at the JBPD.
“There are so many great things to say about Andy,” Robinson wrote. “He was warm, kind, funny, and a loyal friend. Hell, I don't think he ever met a stranger.”
Wayne Gordon said he first met Cpl. Lavender 13 years ago.
“He was so sincere and genuine,” Gordon wrote. “Every encounter felt like he cared more about me than he did himself. The world is a better place because of his heart for service. Andy will be missed immeasurably.”
Cpl. Lavender will be laid to rest on Aug. 21.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jacksonville Beach Police Department Corporal Andrew “Andy” Lavender, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.