Orlando police chief remembers fallen hero on 'Flashpoint'

Debra Clayton remembered year after her tragic death

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager, Justin Warmoth - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - On this week's edition of "Flashpoint," Orlando Police Chief John Mina and News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth touched on several topics, including how the department and community remembered Lt. Debra Clayton one year after her tragic death. 

"I got that phone call that no chief wants to hear," Mina said. "One of the things that sticks out to me the most is the officers who responded to the hospital, including her squad mates. We were all just broken. It was an extremely hard day." 

It's no secret that Clayton loved the Orlando community, especially the youth. Mina said she often volunteered in different neighborhoods to give back and to humanize the badge.

"It was extremely important to her to engage our youth," Mina said. "She used that infectious smile that she had to build trust between police and the residents, and she knew how important that was." 

Last Tuesday -- the first anniversary of Clayton's death -- several remembrance events took place around the city. Mina said it was imperative to do something special to not only honor her but also Orange County sheriff's Deputy Norman Lewis, who lost his life on the same day during the search for accused murderer Markeith Loyd. 

"It started at UCF and there was a procession that came through the city, passed by the Orlando Police Department, and we all stood out there. There must have been 300 to 400 of us, and then we ended the day with a legacy walk," Mina said. "Part of the many community engagement activities that she did were organizing these marches and walks, including March Against Violence, so we knew this is what she would've wanted." 

 Mina also talked about the search for Clayton's alleged killer and the night he was caught. 

"We wanted to catch him as quickly as possible and bring him to justice," Mina said. "The night we got him, my first phone call was to Seth Clayton (Clayton's husband), and I'll never forget his words and his relief when we told him that we put Debra's handcuffs on Markeith." 

Other topics discussed during "Flashpoint" included Orlando's crime stats for 2017, what's expected for 2018 and Mina's take on the push to make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida. 
 

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