FORT MYERS, Fla. - July 18th marks six years since Fort Myers Police Officer Andrew Widman was shot and killed in the line of duty.
It is a tough day for the department and especially those who worked alongside the young officer. But a random act of kindness and a gift is reminding them why they do what they do.
Just a few days ago, among the regular mail, Chief Doug Baker got a letter and a framed "In Memory of 413" sticker. You'll see those on many law enforcement vehicles. It was Officer Widman's ID number. But the story behind it all and the mystery of who sent it has the Chief moved with gratitude.
"It was wrapped in a very nice white paper wrapping," Baker said. "It was very neat. I thought the letter was very moving."
It read, in part, "Dear Chief Baker, A couple years back, I picked up a small red truck that had been reposessed from the Fort Myers area. On the back window was this sticker. I couldn't bear to leave it on the truck when I dropped it off at the auction. In doing that, I knew it would be taken off and destroyed and in my mind... a piece of Officer Widman's memory...also."
The writer went on to say he proudly displayed it on his work truck, driving all throughout Florida, sharing Officer Widman's story. Now that his truck is being sold, he wants "413", though wrinkled and worn, to come home.
"You just don't see somebody going so far and taking the time," Baker said. "Maybe removing it would be one thing and throwing it out but he couldn't even do that. He wanted to make sure it got back. It's just a nice gesture."
Saying "thank you" may be difficult. The signature shows the sender is a retired officer but the name is unclear, perhaps a sign of humility from the fellow badge-wearer.
"It's more than a sticker to us, too," Baker said.
July 18, 2008, Officer Andrew Widman, "413" was shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute. The tragic event led to the passage of the Widman Act in Florida, which keeps felons who violate probation off the streets until their parole officer can review the case.
"That ID number is more than just a couple numbers on a sticker," Baker said. "That was an individual. It was a life attached to that. There were people who loved the individual that is attached to that."
This special gift will be displayed in the department as a reminder of why they wear the uniform.
"I would just thank them for their thoughtfulness," Baker said. "In this day and age you don't see a lot of it."
Chief Baker doesn't know if this was intended to arrive around the anniversary of Widman's death or if it was a complete coincidence. Either way, it's touching memento of the brother they lost 6 years ago.