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SW Florida Bleeds Blue raises money for fallen officer’s family

August 16, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

An event on Tuesday evening in Bonita Springs united numerous Southwest Florida public officials, local law enforcement agencies and first responders.

Southwest Florida Bleeds Blue was a grassroots effort of local police supporters set to raise money for the fiancee and son left behind by fallen Fort Myers Police Department Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller.

Jobbers-Miller was only 29 years old when he was gunned down in the line of duty. He succumbed to injuries one week later, on July 28.

Article Photos


The family of Adam Jobbers Miller onlooks the SWFL Bleeds Blue event while mourning their loss.

ALEX GALANTE

The funds raised will go toward supporting Jobbers-Miller's, fiancee, Jamie Kendrick, and her son, who Jobbers-Miller planned to adopt once the couple married.

The event kicked off with the national anthem sung by Jennifer Beaudoin, proceeded by a ceremony by Lee and Collier county motor and honor guard representatives. Tributes were given by local Fort Myers Police Department officers, who also read a eulogy on behalf of Kendrick, who was also present but said it was too difficult for her to read herself.

"He was my soulmate [] and I had the best years of my life with him," she wrote. Kendrick's and Jobbers-Miller's parents and sister were also present.

A tribute speech was then given by Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno.

"On behalf of Sheriff Mike Scott and I, we're humbled by the presence of all the different departments, community members, and the families coming together to support no greater cause but to help the Jobbers-Miller family. And we must never forget," he said.

Marceno, who is a New York native, mentioned the unitedness of the community since Jobbers-Millers death, saying it is akin to the way the U.S. came together after the tragedy of 9-11.

But as the community is just now coming together as a whole, this sense of unity is always felt among first responders, day in and day out.

"The Blue Family"

Firefighters, police officers, and deputies alike were present at the SWFL Bleeds Blue event, and even though they wore separate uniforms-they said they were all in this together.

"What I've learned over the last 12 years being involved is these agencies: first, responders, fire, EMS, law enforcement-they're a family," said John McGowan, who for the past 12 years has been the elected fire commissioner for the North Collier fire department, and is now running for a seat as a 20th circuit court judge. "Ironically, you know in the fire service, those people spend more time with each other in the firehouse than with their actual families. The same goes with law enforcement. I mean they live, eat, breathe, sleep as a unit there together. So historically, I think they're always their together, and it's a great thing."

"This is the first time I think we have had all of the Southwest Florida police department agencies gathered somewhere at all once," said Lt. Bruce Sheffield of the Bonita Springs Fire Department who was present with his crew. "We had a couple of firefighters that passed away and we had a lot of support from the police department as well, so it works both ways for us showing support for each other."

"I think when we get the different agencies together as a region, it really shows that all law enforcement is a family, no matter what uniform you wear. No matter what department you work for, if you are in law enforcement, you are brothers and sisters. So that really hits home when they're all together, and it's a great thing to see that," said Chelsea Pereira, who was one of the event organizers.

Pereira is a wife to a "motor cop," which is the moniker for officer who patrols on a motorcycle. She said there is a strong comradery amongst the women who are married to law enforcement officers.

"I think the fact that I really could be in her position makes me empathize with her. It makes this a passion for me, to make sure that she's taken care of. When tragedy like this happens, we just we try to stay involved in it because we know that by doing so, we're giving back to these families when it could easily be us - and we would want the same support in return," said Pereira. "So, we just kind of hold that as our values -?to do what we can in a situation like this. Even though it's really hard and its tragic, we really appreciate it in a sense because we can give back."

First responders and their families live every day like it's their last, with a gratitude and sense of mortality, which is why they gravitate closer to each other.

"It's something you always keep in the back of your mind, safety is our No. 1 concern, and we look out for one another," said Sheffield. "But it keeps us on our toes and makes you appreciate every day that you are here and that it could happen to you."

Pereira spoke about the reality she faces every day her husband goes to work, and how it's made her a stronger person.

"In retrospect, when I look back over the years, things that used to be really hard for me to deal with -not that it's ever less hard-but I just deal with it better. So I have gotten stronger, and we support each other through it. On his tough days I'm his rock, and on my tough days, he lets me know it's going to be okay." Pereira said, adding some advice to those married into law enforcement. "You really have to put in extra work to make a relationship in this field work. I believe that."

Members of the community came out to support the Jobbers-Millers family, as well.

Maribel Sanchez, who has a strong presence in the local Hispanic community voiced her support for first responders.

"It means a lot, you know. They're the people that keep us safe, and I think that it's important for all of us to as a community to be apart of and engage with anything that happens to the department."

Sanchez explained why, although it's a sad day, it is also a celebration of life.

"To me it's important to be here today, contribute to this cause, which is amazing. I'm really happy to have been here, and I believe everybody should always get together as a community and be there for the cops," she said.

Moving Forward with the Law

Wisner Desmaret, who is in the country illegally, is facing eight felonies in the death of Jobbers-Miller. He was indicted for first-degree murder this past week.

In Florida, killing a law enforcement officer in the line of duty is considered a capital offense. This means that Desmaret can be sentenced to death. A ruling of incompetency is the only thing which would exempt someone from capital punishment.

Although there are multiple reports stating Desmaret suffered from mental illness, a Sarasota Judge recently ruled him "competent," which could make him eligible for death row.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also recently filed for a warrant to detain Desmaret, where they would decide if he will be deported back to Haiti.

If convicted, however, it is unlikely Desmaret would be set free back in his home country, as his convictions would get him no less than a lifetime in prison.

State Rep. Byron Donalds of District 80 was also present to show support at the SWFL Bleeds Blue event.

Donalds said he expects Desmaret will be held accountable for his actions on American soil.

"I think when you commit crimes in this country you have to be held to account. So I think the prosecution should definitely move forward," he said.

Florida became an anti-sanctuary state on Jan. 12, by the passing of the "Rule of Law Adherence Act," which also creates a civil cause of action against state agencies and local governments for death caused by illegal aliens released due to sanctuary policies. This may entitle the Jobbers-Miller family to press charges against Sarasota County Court who released Desmaret back into society only two days before he shot the Fort Myers police officer.

On August 11, records indicate the case has been filed with the National Crime Information Center which provides access to agencies such as the FBI and aggregates data on hate crime. The NCIC provide statistics on the number of law enforcement officers killed and assaulted.

Since 2018, at least 54 law enforcement officers across the U.S. have died while on duty.

 
 

 

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