One year memorial speech by Aleena Kondek:
My name is Aleena Kondek. I’m officer Kondek’s youngest child. My family and I would like to thank each of you for coming here tonight to honor my father. The amount of respect and support we’ve seen this year has been overwhelming. We’ve heard the words “never forgotten” so many times but we never knew how true that that would be because of all of you. Every time you wear his shirt, pin, or bracelet, my dad is remembered. Every time someone reads his name, salutes him, or puts a sticker on their car, my dad is remembered. We never want those things to stop. My dad deserves that. All of our fallen heroes deserve that.
Over the past year we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned that the bond between LEO families is unbreakable. Maybe because LEO’s know that if they lose their life, it’s because they are protecting another family…..only to leave their own family behind. We’ve learned that we aren’t alone and that there is always someone to lean on whether it’s our LEO family, our COPS organization, or strangers from our community that still tear up when they say my dad’s name. At first, it was really hard to see people wearing shirts with my dad’s name or stickers on cars with his EOW date but now….I smile when I see them because every time someone reads it, his name is remembered. I’m so proud to say that the hero on those shirts, signs and stickers was my daddy.
We’ve learned that my dad’s sacrifice was and will always be felt by so many and not just us. We are proud to say that my dad was honored by so many this year. His name is on billboards, buildings, and memorial walls from Tarpon Springs and Titusville to Tallahassee and Washington DC. This year, Mr. Tom Dobies donated a K9 to the New Port Richey Police Dept who was named “K9 Charlie K”. There is a detective club at River Ridge Middle School called the “Charlie K Club” that I was honored to be a part of. The Pasco County Clerks office named Dec 21st “Charlie K Day” where employees are able to wear “Charlie K” shirts to work. Florida Hospital, North Pinellas allows their ER employees to wear “Charlie K” shirts every Friday. The Shady Hills Little League Park named their new baseball field the “Kondek” field. The Tampa Bay Lightening honored and announced my dad as a hero. The Tampa Bay Rays retired my dad’s badge number on their wall. Pasco County Sheriff Nocco included and honored my dad at their own annual memorial this year. Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri has reached out in so many ways to support and honor my dad. There are so many other agencies that continue to reach out and support us including St. Pete Police Chief Holloway, the Suncoast PBA, and several lodges with Fraternal Order of Police. I apologize if I forgot anyone but please know we appreciate everything you’ve done for us.
Living without my dad gets harder every day because he has missed so many things he was looking forward to. Last December, my dad was just starting to teach me how to drive. In his absence and here with us tonight, there are quite a few stressed out officers and deputies with a few extra gray hairs that took over that job for my dad. So guys, and you know who you are….thank you for taking the time to help me nail that driving test this month! I promise to remember the statutes and fines you repeated over and over while sitting in the passenger seat!
This year was our first birthday and holidays without him. He wasn’t here to do the special things he always did with us. My dad wasn’t here to bring me or my mom and Holly flowers for Valentines but my brother did. His card to us said..”because dad can’t, I will.” My dad wasn’t here to bring us birthday flowers to work and school but this year for my 16th birthday (the huge birthday party my dad was looking forward to planning with me), I didn’t want a party without him. To make it special, the Tarpon Springs Police Dept sang Happy Birthday to me in the cafeteria at school in front of everyone. I think of that day every time I eat lunch at school. My dad wasn’t here to surprise my mom with “date night”, flowers, and a mushy card on their anniversary. Instead…this year my mom sat in a cemetery on her anniversary. The same place my siblings and I sat on father’s day. We miss our everyday life with my dad, not just the special days. We miss his big hugs and his sense of humor. We miss our funny group texts that seemed to always wake him up too early. We miss waking him up after just an hour of sleep to settle a bet between us kids or watching him fall asleep sitting up because we had to tell him just one more story before he went back to bed. He never complained. But mostly, we miss the sound of his voice saying “I love you guys” as he walked out the door at night leaving for his midnight shift.
On behalf of my family, we want to thank all of you that reached out to us. Thank you for the letters, prayers, wishes, and support. Thank you Tarpon Springs Police Dept and Cindy Roberts for always checking on my mom and helping her make it through the days she didn’t think she could. It’s been hard for her to make so many decisions for our family without my dad but she gets up every day without him and reminds us of the things my dad wanted for us in life and that it’s okay to say his name and laugh about the funny memories we have.
We honor my dad by sharing what an honest, hard-working, family man he was with and without his uniform on. He was what an officer should be, he was what a father and husband should be, he was what a friend should be and we can all learn something from him. He left a legacy behind and we are so lucky we were an everyday part of his life. We’re lucky we have so many memories and pictures of him. We’re lucky he taught us how to be thankful for things, especially when we didn’t deserve them. That’s something no one can take away from us.
Take a minute today and remember the sacrifice my dad and the rest of our fallen heroes have made and pray for all of the others that continue to protect us. Remember the important things in life and tell your LEO’s and your family you love them every day when they leave because they may not always make it home.
On Christmas morning when you get to wake up and talk to your family, remember those who can’t. Remind them that you haven’t forgotten them or the ones they lost, even if it’s a short text. You have no idea how much those little things help.
Thank you again for being here and thank you for honoring my dad today and every day.
One year memorial speech by Officer L. Bird:
It’s a great honor and privilege to stand with this distinguished group of public servants, proud family members, valued friends, and brave members and supporters of the Tarpon Springs community on a day we pay special tribute to Ofc Kondek, whose story is a testament to the bravery, patriotism, and valor of law enforcement officers at every level.
Charlie K was taken from us – far too suddenly, and far too soon - as he died doing what he was trained – and sworn – to do: saving the lives of his colleagues, protecting innocent bystanders from harm, subduing and apprehending dangerous suspects, and pursuing desperate criminals who attempted to flee from justice. Yet his death – in the line of duty, and in service of the country he loved – tell only one chapter of his story.
Our community recognizes him as brave law enforcement officer. But many of you also knew him as a devoted parent and a loving husband. Together, we mourn Charlie K as an individual of unmistakable integrity, unshakable character, and infinite kindness. He gave much and asked little.
To this day when we start our shift we usually sit in the Sergeants office before we get on the road. I still see him walking through the door and immediately giving Cpl Spatz a throat chop while still holding his coffee in his hand. Next he would turn and before I could even ask him why he didn’t bring the Sergeant a coffee, he would say “Shut it Lawrence” followed with an ear flick. This would go on all night as we humped calls, wrote reports and conducted night eyes on our midnight shift. Charlie K came to just about every call and was there for us all the time. He would call on my days off and tell me all about the crack arrest he got the previous night, stating “The old man’s still got it” as he could still make narcotics arrests. Cpl Spatz and I would write fake memos expressing Charlie’s interests and desires to become part of the TSPD DUI wolfpack. And we would take pictures of the memo on Sgt Millers desk and text them to Charlie on his days off.
I have trained several new officers this past year. I have and will continue to take time out of the day to share Charlie’s story with each officer so they have some kind of idea what a true hero he really is.
His memory has not faded. We gather today at the Police Department – to keep our promise to him that, no matter how many days have gone by, there will never come a time when Tarpon Springs forgets his sacrifice. Our city will always remember what he did – and what he gave – to enforce our laws and keep our citizens safe.
On behalf of patrol as I’m sure there are a few of us that did not get this opportunity, Thank you Sheriff Gualtieri and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for everything you and your deputy’s did for us. Thank you Major Young, Major Templeton and Chief Kochen for helping guide this agency through this tragic event and giving us whatever we needed.
And last but certainly not least to six people I immediately fell in love with the day I met them all. Six of the strongest people who I ever met. Teresa Kondek and your five children thank you as we were privileged to get to hear about your family’s story’s when Charlie was not at work.
We will never forget you Charlie K.