The Lakeland community lost a dedicated public servant last week when Lakeland Police Detective Brian Shinn died unexpectedly while getting ready for work Monday morning. Members of the Lakeland Police Department lost a friend and co-worker. Brian's funeral service was held this past Friday, and so in memory of his life we are posting the comments made by Chief Boatner during the service. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family at this difficult time.
There are special people that God brings into our lives to bless us, even if only for a season. They are seldom the people that we think they would be, more than likely not the persons we would select; nonetheless, the right choice, the right person, in the right season.
It is clearly evident from last night’s gathering of family and friends, as well as this afternoon’s, that Brian was that special person for many. Quiet, unassuming, yet mischievous, more than willing to give of himself for others, yet not beyond scheming the best prank in the Detective Bureau, or at least as I am told.
While I didn’t get in on the pranks, I had the good fortune of riding on the elevator with Brian. An elevator seems like an unremarkable place to get know someone better, but I was blessed by the experience of riding with Brian. When I asked how he was doing, it was always “Good.” When I asked, “How is your family,” Brian would raise his eyebrows, then get what must be a Shinn family trademark twinkle in his eyes, and tell me how well Jeremy was doing with his music or how much everyone enjoyed the vacation out west to visit the sites and old friends. There was no doubt that the most important persons in Brian’s life were Tana and family. I thank you, Tana for sharing Brian with us.
There is no doubt as well that Brian touched the lives of his colleagues and friends at the Lakeland Police Department in a very special way. I have heard a number of statements this week describing Brian; the most frequent has been that Brian was a “really good guy.”
To many that may seem to be a common description, but I trust that those of you who are NOT members of the law enforcement profession, will remember that we do not encounter a lot of “really good guys.” Our world view leans much more towards the opposite. A “good guy” is one of the highest forms of praise that can be registered for a police officer and, in Brian’s case, exceptionally well-deserved and earned.
Brian was a trusted friend to those with whom he worked. He was an excellent teammate, always willing to help out with other’s investigations anytime, always willing to be there for them. He demonstrated that he cared and was going to do his part and then some. The loss that the Department feels, in particular, those close friends and members of the Detective Bureau, are deepened because of the quality of friend and partner that Brian is and will be remembered as.
Brian was not the man that he became because he was a police officer. Those qualities, that character, those values, are not taught at any police academy. They are developed and honed by family, friends and faith.
I know that Brian was long-time member of First United Methodist Church. Further, I understand that he was very active as a young man in the church and has remained actively involved with the choir, the hand bell choir and the youth ministry. Brian was the police officer that he was because of the man that he became.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a “pre-trial interview” with Brian for a pending cold-case homicide prosecution that Retired Detective Franson and Brian had brought to fruition. As I listened to Brain conduct the interview, it came to me that by the manner in which he undertook the questioning; the patience, the understanding of the witnesses’ reluctance, the compassion he displayed, that he “got it.” Brian had the “big picture!” This thing that we call law enforcement is about people; good or bad, victim or culprit, it is about people and how we care for people that we encounter; that truth and fairness will prevail when we care. Brian turned reluctance to success before my very eyes that night and I was blessed by the experience of his caring attitude. Brian was that special person for me that evening.
I am sometimes asked what qualities make a person a good police officer; my response has been love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In the future, I believe that I will summarize this by simply saying “the qualities of Detective Brian Shinn.”
May the fruits of Brian’s spirit never be forgotten.
- Chief of Police Roger Boatner