Al Hogle: a life dedicated to community service

Southwest Florida lost a highly respected citizen with the tragic death of Al Hogle on Monday. The Longboat Key police chief spent his life in service to his country and community, whether in the military, law enforcement or elected office. The 63-year-old Hogle died after crashing his motorcycle while on an outing with friends along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, N.C.

While he served as Bradenton's police chief for only a brief time, from September 2001 to December 2002, he left his mark by rising to several challenges.

Hogle arrived here after 28 years of law enforcement experience with the Sarasota Police Department and two years in the military police with the Air Force.

He also brought political experience, with three years on the Sarasota City Commission and five months as mayor, a post he resigned after his appointment as Bradenton's top cop.

Hogle settled into a department with internal discipline and community relations problems, but brought about a dramatic change by rebuilding trust and unity in both areas. He also opened lines of communication and cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

After a six-month review of department operations, Hogle instituted changes to improve the training, recruitment and retention of officers. At that time, in March 2002, Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston stated: "One of the reasons I wanted to hire Al Hogle ... is that he is very thorough, he is very systemic and he has very good judgment. ... He's fair, but he's a hard grader."

In late November 2002, Hogle stunned Bradenton with his decision to resign and become Longboat Key's police chief. The town's city manager recruited Hogle hard. "It's a personal challenge," he stated then. "It's invigorating, it's intriguing, it's interesting."

Hogle left the Friendly City on good terms -- and with appreciation for a job well done. He had won the admiration and friendship of many in Manatee County.

Soon after hearing the news of his passing, Bradenton Police Chief Mike Radzilowski, who replaced Hogle, articulated the thoughts of other mourners in the community: "Al Hogle was truly a great guy and gentleman. He was always mild-mannered and soft-spoken. He was my friend and I will truly miss him."

Born in Biloxi, Miss., Hogle spent most of his life in Southwest Florida, graduating from Sarasota High School and the University of South Florida. He is survived by his wife, Leslie Hogle, and daughter, Sandy, and his mother, Norma Hogle of Bradenton. Our condolences to the Hogle family.

A private family ceremony took place Friday at the National Cemetery in Sarasota. A public service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Robarts Arena on the Sarasota County Fairgrounds on Fruitville Road.