Eight years ago, his father was killed in the line of duty. To honor him, this young man just became a cop.

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TAMPA, FL – The son of a fallen Tarpon Springs Police Officer was sworn in recently as a police officer at the Tampa International Airport Police Department. The bittersweet moment is one that the new officer will never forget as he continues his father’s legacy.

Andrew Kondek is the son of fallen hero Ofc. Charles ‘Charlie K’ Kondek, who was shot and killed in December of 2014. Andrew noted during the swearing-in ceremony that he grew up in law enforcement because of his father who he felt gave him a head start in his new career. Andrew said:

“I grew up in law enforcement and I grew up in front of my dad…so I feel like I got a head start on this law enforcement career.”

Andrew’s father was shot and killed on December 21, 2014 by Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr. with a stolen gun after he responded to a noise complaint caused by Parilla. When Charlie confronted Parilla, he opened fire with the stolen gun.

He was later taken into custody and plead guilty to shooting and killing Andrew’s father.

Andrew could not help but speak about his father during the ceremony. He said:

“He was always kind to people, always caring, always trying to help everybody.”

Charlie’s friend and fellow officer, Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeffrey Young, was in attendance and noted how proud he was to show his support for Andrew’s new career path. He said:

“[I] couldn’t be prouder as a friend, family member. I know your dad’s looking down with pride and I was just telling your mom, she said, ‘you know, his dad should’ve been here pinning the badge on him,’ and I said, ‘he was here with you and with your mom and he’s looking down on you every day with pride.”

Andrew said he chose the Tampa International Airport Police Department because he wanted to carve out his path in his career. Although he is proud of his father and his accomplishments, he wanted to start moving forward with his legacy in a different agency.

Andrew was sworn into the agency on June 30th which also happened to be his birthday, something his new agency reminded him of when they brought out a cake after the ceremony.

Not only did they bring out a birthday cake, but they also sang the birthday song to him…talk about welcoming him to the family!

Andrew said that while the planning of his swearing-in was coincidental in terms of his birthday, he also said:

“[It was a] Good birthday present.”

Andrew spoke to 10 Tampa Bay after graduating from the law enforcement academy in 2019 about his decision to enter law enforcement as a career. He said that before his father was shot and killed in the line of duty, he never considered entering the field.

Andrew noted the family atmosphere and outpouring of support after his father’s death is what helped him decide to enter law enforcement. At the time, he said:

“I’ve finally accomplished something I’ve been working really, really hard towards and now I’m nervous to actually complete it and move on. It’s been a long time coming but it’s just weird to finally finish it and actually be able to move on and be able to start a career….I’m just here to basically finish out my dad’s legacy and be the best police officer I can, just like he [Charlie] was.”

Re-fund the police

My friend Jedi: Meet the police K9 who saved countless lives and officers before he was murdered in cold blood.

Editor note from ODMP: K9 Jedi was stabbed to death while attempting an apprehension of a burglary suspect in the 2200 block of South Eddy Street at about 2:45 pm.

A resident in the home called 911 to report a subject armed with a machete was attempting to break in. Responding units encountered the subject who then fled on foot. Officers pursued him to the 6700 block of Swift Avenue South where K9 Jedi was released to perform an apprehension. The man fatally stabbed K9 Jedi during the apprehension and then stabbed an officer in the face before being shot and killed.

The murders of several Washington state professional law enforcers recently have compounded the grief of the murder of Jedi.

This year I’ve worn a mourning band across my badge more often than not. Though I did not have the honor of knowing those officers and deputy, Jedi I knew, very well.

Let me tell you a bit about him.

My friend Jedi: Meet the police K9 who saved countless lives and officers before he was murdered in cold blood.

I first met Jedi several years ago.

He and his partner accompanied me on many dangerous calls and arrested many dangerous criminals. I knew they would always have my back.

Each of them highly trained, competent and capable.

The consummate professionals, but together, Jedi and his partner were the epitome of expert tactical synergy.

Watching them work was an absolute treat. Everyone felt safer whenever Jedi and his partner were around, they were completely dialed in.

This meant that Jedi paid little attention to me, or anything else, when his partner was around and he was on the job.

The bond between brothers in arms is a well known and often dramatized phenomenon. The bond between a K9 and his partner is utterly extraordinary, and unfathomable for the uninitiated.

I didn’t take it personally when Jedi mostly ignored me, he loved his partner in a way I think we can’t really understand.

Jedi knew, as much as a dog can know, that his job was to keep us safe, and he took his job very seriously. It certainly never stopped me from giving him pats, and telling him he’s the goodest boy ever (don’t tell my dogs), which he happily accepted.

For me everything changed one day when Jedi’s partner stopped a stolen car, and its occupants exited and fled. The K9 pair gave chase and cornered them at the end of a driveway, and in desperation the criminals tried forcing their way inside the home.

Obvious sounds of fighting, shouting and orders, were being accidentally broadcasted on the radio as the officer’s microphone was being activated during the struggle. I was terrified that my friends were being hurt, or possibly murdered.

When I got there, it was unclear where exactly they were, but it was clear that they needed help. So I ran. I got out of my car and I ran maybe two or three blocks checking every driveway on the way until I could hear the fight and made a beeline.

My friend Jedi: Meet the police K9 who saved countless lives and officers before he was murdered in cold blood.

When I found Jedi and his partner, they were still embroiled in a life-or-death struggle and I couldn’t get into it quick enough. When it was over, maybe 60 seconds later, we had two car thieves in custody, two stolen cars recovered, multitudes of stolen property, and probably half a dozen cops with two or more hours of paperwork to do and many weeks of inquests to be subjected to.

As is typical, administrators get months and unfettered resources to evaluate and pass judgement on what we had milliseconds to choose to act with nothing but our hands and what we carried.

Jedi however was not happy with the outcome; he had more fight in him. As he was being placed back in his car, he could see one of the thieves still struggling and arguing with me while I was searching him despite his handcuffs and prone position.

While it was of no concern to me, to a devoted and tenacious K9 defender like Jedi, it no doubt looked like the guy remained a threat and was trying to hurt me. He sprang into action.

Jedi jumped out of the back of the car, somehow his leash got disconnected, and he made a mad dash for my (in his mind) attacker. My fellow officers no doubt can see a serious problem here; a force tool without direct control and a high likelihood for serious injury about to be applied to a handcuffed suspect.

My friend Jedi: Meet the police K9 who saved countless lives and officers before he was murdered in cold blood.

Jedi’s partner called out to me and I looked up just in time to see Jedi’s absolutely terrifyingly wonderful face about to close around the thigh of the person I was searching. Without thinking I put my hand out and pushed him away.

Again, my fellow officers, particularly those with K9 experience, know why this was a terrible idea. But it worked. All I could think about was saving Jedi and his partner from administrative punitive action.

I also instinctively told Jedi “off!” because that’s what I’d say to my dogs, and I don’t even know if “off” is a command that he understood. Nonetheless Jedi moved away and within seconds was back under control of his partner and in the back of his car.

There was much debate about whether Jedi actually bit the suspect after breaking free from the car. I maintain that he did not; though he did try, I saw that he only got the person’s clothing. Confounding the issue were the multiple bite wounds the suspect had already sustained from fighting with Jedi before I ever got there. This whole ordeal of course only added to the mountain of red tape that must be navigated in the fallout.

More important to me were the implications of the event. Jedi came to my rescue. Jedi listened to my commands. And Jedi didn’t bite me when I gave him every reason and opportunity to.

His partner later told me if it were anyone else, Jedi would not have responded so favorably. If it were anyone else, I would likely be missing fingers. Maybe all those head pats and dangerous calls together counted for something after all.

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