Lakeland, FL – Lakeland Police Department (LPD) Officer Ken Foley died in the line of duty on Wednesday night, after he suffered a medical emergency as he was sitting in his patrol car on break.
The 57-year-old officer took a late lunch at a local eatery at approximately 5:30 p.m., and parked his patrol vehicle outside the Hampton Inn hotel on Socrum Loop Road, The Ledger reported.
His fellow officers became concerned after a dispatcher tried to contact him over the radio and received no response, Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia said during a press conference on Thursday.
Local officers and deputies launched a frantic search, and ultimately located the unresponsive officer sitting in his patrol car just before 7 p.m.
Officer Foley was supposed to have gone off-shift a half hour prior.
His fellow officers began administering emergency care and rushed the veteran officer to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, The Ledger reported.
The medical examiner is working to determine Officer Foley’s exact cause of death, according to Chief Garcia.
“Our hearts were broken earlier today as we lost a great officer and a 29-year member of our LakelandPD family,” the department said in a Facebook post. “We want to thank all of the emergency professionals who worked so hard to care for Officer Foley.”
“Please keep Officer Foley’s family and all those who loved him in your thoughts and prayers,” the agency added. “Many people are grieving this huge loss to our agency and our community.”
Officer Foley served in the U.S. Marines for eight years before he joined LPD nearly three decades ago, The Ledger reported.
“He was a guy who never met a stranger,” Chief Garcia said. “He was always happy to see folks.”
Chief Garcia said he recently spoke with Officer Foley about the possibility of retirement, but that kicking back wasn’t something the veteran officer was ready to do just yet.
“He still felt like he had a few good years left in him, and he wasn’t done providing the service that he wanted to provide to the community,” the chief said. “He’s one of those guys that, certainly, was a brick in that wall that protects the city.”
Officer Foley had a “natural ability” to connect with people, and he tended to “leave people better than he found them,” Chief Garcia told reporters.
He also had an “infectious smile” and a positive attitude that will be sorely missed, the chief added.
“[He was] definitely one of our local heroes,” Chief Garcia said. “It is certainly a loss. It is a loss to our law enforcement family and a loss to our community.”
Officer Foley leaves behind his wife and two daughters.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Lakeland Police Department Officer Ken Foley, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.