Ave Atque Vale Chief Hogle

Contributing Columnist

Hail and farewell, Police Chief Albert F. Hogle.

This column should have been written last week.

It was not written last week because the news of the chief’s untimely death was too sudden, too unexpected and too much of a shock. There were no words to adequately express the feelings of grief and loss caused by the devastating report.

There are still no adequate words.

We first devoted a column to Chief Al Hogle back in September of 2009, which outlined his background and described his accomplishments since taking over Longboat’s police force.

This was just seven years after former Town Manager Bruce St. Denis had handpicked Hogle to be Longboat Key’s Chief of Police.

Hogle was no stranger to public service at the time. He had served in the armed forces of the United States, then spent years working his way up in the ranks of the Sarasota Police Department, where he was a member of the SWAT team.

Following his retirement from Sarasota’s police force, he continued his interest in civic affairs by running for and being elected to that city’s Board of Commissioners and subsequently was elected mayor by his fellow commissioners.

He then returned to police work by accepting the position of Chief of Police for the Town of Bradenton, where he was serving when the vacancy opened up on Longboat Key.

Fit and trim — looking 20 years younger than his actual age — Al Hogle could have been chosen by Hollywood’s Central Casting as the model for what an ideal chief of police should look like.

His deeply resonant voice and commanding demeanor belied a warm personality and eagerness to do the right thing at all times. He was a friend to all with whom he came in contact, except for those whose actions were unlawful.

He proved to be a remarkable leader during his tenure, working diligently to streamline the department and maintaining its operations efficiently and economically. He was frequently called upon by Town Manager St. Denis to fill in as acting manager when the former was on vacation, and the current Town Commission appointed him briefly as acting manager pending the search for a permanent replacement.

As has been reported, he had an abiding love for motorcycles and looked forward to vacationing each year with like-minded buddies in the famed Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, which claimed his life on a rain-shrouded curve last week.

The Town of Longboat Key has suffered top personnel losses during the past year. Individuals can be replaced with competent people capable of doing the tasks of their predecessors, but the spirit, knowledge and historical perspective of leaders no longer with us is not easily duplicated.

Chief Al was memorialized at Robarts Arena yesterday (Thursday) by throngs of colleagues, friends and well-wishers, and then laid to rest with full military honors at Sarasota National Cemetery.

He leaves a void impossible to fill, but for his family and friends there remain good memories and one small consolation: he died doing what he loved to do.

Richard L. Hershatter is a retired lawyer and novelist who has written for the Longboat Key News for eight years. He can be reached at hershatter@lbknews.com


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1 Response for “Ave Atque Vale Chief Hogle”

  1. Joan Webster says:

    AMEN! A perfect summary tribute to a great man.

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