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2,000 pay respects to Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle in emotional farewell

SARASOTA -- Cops aren't supposed to cry, right?

They are usually the stoic ones when everyone around them breaks down.

But many of the law officers in a crowd of about 2,000 at Robarts Arena in Sarasota on Thursday did cry openly at the funeral of Longboat Key Police Chief Albert F. Hogle, Jr.

Chief Hogle was killed in a motorcycle accident on May 14 while he was on vacation in North Carolina.

During his formal, yet touching, military-style funeral on, Chief Hogle was remembered by seven friends, who spoke on his behalf.

During the speeches, Chief Hogle was remembered as a calm, caring, laid-back leader who always made time for anyone who needed him. He was described as a dedicated public servant, a man who was "wired" to protect others and a strong believer in family and faith.

Before listening to eulogies, the audience members, who included close to 1,000 members of the law enforcement community and many citizens from Longboat Key, Sarasota and Bradenton, watched as Chief Hogle's wife, Leslie, dressed in a blue dress the color of a cloudless summer sky, walked in with the immediate family and sit in a front row before the podium in the auditorium.

She cried when the bagpipes began in the doorway behind her and her husband's American flag-draped casket was brought in by pallbearers.

She smiled tenderly later when Chief Peter A. Cumming of the Longboat Key Police Department told a great story about how Chief Hogle would relieve Salvation Army bell ringers each Christmas at Publix Supermarket and would delight citizens by ringing the bells himself.

She grimaced in pain when the pallbearers came for her husband at the end of the funeral to bring him to a waiting hearse for his final journey, to Sarasota National Cemetery, where he was buried after the funeral service.

Many who spoke made reference not just to Chief Hogle's life, which appeared to be filled with caring and considerate acts, but also his marriage.

"Al and Leslie were married and in love," said family friend Marianne Barnebey of Bradenton. "In a time of disposal plates and disposal spouses, Al and Leslie were forever."

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, who cried during his talk, pointed at Leslie Hogle and said, "I know when you stand up and see all of these people you will know that people are not here just for Al, they were also here for you, today, tomorrow and forever."

Each person who attended received a funeral program with a picture on the front of Chief Hogle and his yellow Camaro sports car.

On the back of the program, were the simple, yet powerful words: "He was a good man! Country Family Community."