Impact of Sarasota officer's death still felt decades later

On a wall of the Sarasota Police Department, a lone name is etched into a plaque as a remembrance.

"He was young and vibrant," said Ret. Capt. Jim Schultz.

Retired Sarasota Police Captain Jim Schultz remembered Officer Warren Jones Friday morning.

"He loved his job. He loved the city," he said.

It was the 1970s and Officer Jones was working on patrol. Schultz said he was one of the first officers to graduate with a four-year degree and was working his dream job.

"He loved the fellow officers he worked with. He just took great joy in all the things he did with the city," Schultz said.

April 5, 1975 changed everything. Officer Jones was in his second year on the force. He approached a suspicious car and found a man stealing gas.

A struggle broke out, the man grabbed the officer's gun and shot him.

Officer Jones later died at the hospital.

The suspect, Henry Lee Washington, was found in Fort Myers a few days later. He committed suicide before he could be arrested.

"Out of Officer Jones' death, which was tragic, came triumph," Schultz said.

Schultz said the department became one of the first cities in the state to issue officers bulletproof vests and walkie talkies.

"We changed the way we trained officers, we changed the equipment that we gave officers," he said.

Almost 40 years to the date of Officer Jones' death, the street outside the department has been renamed for him.

The chief hopes the signs will stand as a symbol of the sacrifices officers give up each and every day.

"It is very important for us to recognize the dedication and devotion that the men and women in law enforcement give every single day," said Chief Bernadette DiPino.

It is a life lost tragically that has bonded officers together over the decades.

"We make sure we all go out together, we all come in together. It all works so we come through this together," Schultz said.