On 04 March 2013, the Temple Terrace Police Department, a suburban-Tampa municipal law enforcement agency, buried one of its own. Detective Christopher "Migs" Migliore, 31, succumbed to a long-endured debilitating illness. Detective Migliore, assigned to the department's Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) and touted as a rising young, highly-respected and dedicated investigator, was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome in 2012.
During a planned surgery at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) in Tampa, Fla., in which both Migliore's adrenal glands were excised, complications during the operation arose. After the surgery in early February 2013, Migliore remained in the hospital for a few weeks. Upon his discharge and several days later, Migliore succumbed to this complex illness and passed away at his home in Brandon, FL.
Migliore is known for his avid love and passion for law enforcement. His police career commenced with the University of South Florida Police Department (USFPD) located in Tampa, Fla. After a few years as a policeman at the USFPD, Migliore achieved adoration and respect from his colleagues and the constituency he served: a tremendously diverse and robust student and staff populace of approximately 42,000.
Within a few years, Migliore's hard work and dedication to duty resulted in significant dividends, primary of which was his nomination for "Officer of the Year". He was conferred that award in 2006, on a stage in front of thousands of brother and sister police officers and firefighters, Tampa's mayor, state senators, the Governor, business leaders, and multiple media network personalities. NBCs Tampa-affiliate station WFLA-TV News' anchor, Keith Cate, served as host for this momentous and widely-attended event.
As a campus police officer with the USFPD, Migliore instantly niched his adeptness at DUI enforcement, primary results of which factored into his "Officer of the Year" nomination in 2006.
Migliore's typical meekness, humility and humbleness became most evident, even upon receiving such a coveted and hard-earned award. It is his nature, his colleagues explain, to simply conduct his professional business quietly, reservedly. Investigating cases by "working the streets", said TTPD police Crpl. Christopher Morris, who worked with Migliore in the CIU as a fellow detective, was a staple component of Migliore's investigative prowess. His nature was to be fair, noble, compassionate, and always willing to help out, indicated Morris.
Furthermore, detective Migliore was known for his in-tact constitution, always conducting himself professionally, courteously, and courageously on- and off-duty. His devotion to clearing cases as a detective was a staple feature of Migliore's conduct; investigating every single lead, considering every scintilla of evidence, and ensuring no stone remained unturned were commonplace tenets. His aforementioned personally-ascribed nature was the impetus for his assignment to CIU, after exhibiting exemplary skill and talent while serving as a patrol officer with the Patrol Division.
Migliore had that uncanny ability to convey lessons to those with whom he served without even asserting himself and/or exhibiting effort, rather omnisciently. His nature, his everglowing aura, appealed to everyone and thus gained him notoriety as a highly-esteemed and skilled police officer, colleague and friend, and a well-founded human being. His Field Training Officer (FTO)--author of this article--expresses a deeply-embedded respect for Migliore, saying, "He essentially provided me just as much training, if not more, than I was to provide him as a newly-hired policeman. It seemed effortless of Migs. That was that certain aura about him...and everyone concurred that he was special among us."
Temple Terrace police officer Marcus Hildebrand, who worked together with Migliore at the USFPD before joining TTPD, intimated many accolades, and lauded Migliore for "always being there" and for his "dedication to duty". TTPD police captain Greg Pauley, the commander of the investigative unit to which Migliore was assigned, said his deep respect for him stems from the acutely-investigated cases he was assigned. Pauley also offered that Migliore is "one of the finest cops he ever worked with" and served the public well.
Senior Police Officer Hildebrand harped on Migliore's sense of camaraderie among his colleagues, always offering to assist in others' investigations, and involving himself in the department's Traffic Fatality Investigations (TFI) unit. Inasmuch as off-duty was concerned, Migliore interacted with his colleagues' families, especially the children. His draw to/from children was a phenomena recognized by many who knew him; his aura was pervasive among many circles of humanity.
Temple Terrace police chief Ken Albano said he is saddened by the passing of Migliore, citing his ritual of seeing him in the halls and walkways of city hall and chatting, always smiling, getting things done.
Temple Terrace deputy chief of police Bernie Seeley noted Migliore as a "wonderful guy and fantastic police officer."
Migliore's mother, Mari, and his father, Louie, instilled the greatest of values in their son. The idyllic personality of Migliore garnered him accolades far-surpassing even that of celebrity status, and a deservedly near-prophetic legacy. The work ethic his father, Louie, instilled in him, and the caring spirit his mother, Mari, indoctrinated in him served well with respect to both social and professional venues.
Given the heartstricken nature of their son's passing from a dreaded illness, it was nevertheless awe-inspiring and encouraging to witness the outpouring of love, support, and shared sorrow among those paying respects to Mari and Louie, Dani, and the entire family.
Given full police funeral service attendance, both the Temple Terrace Police Department and the University of South Florida Police Department comingled and thus supplied the Police Honor Guard, another shining example of Migs' uncanny ability of bringing people together. The Honor Guard officers who served within this capacity all knew Migs personally...and it showed; their strict attention with respect to synchronicity and focused , undivided attention while standing guard over Migs' casket was beyond reproach.
Migliore's sister, Michelle Tovar, unsteady on her feet as she approached the podium to speak at her brother's wake, intimated how broken she felt, citing through sobs that she "was supposed to protect him...I am the older sibling...I was to protect him. Instead, he always protected me." The standing-room crowd listened to this heartfelt revelation, epitomizing further the stellar character and humanistic qualities exhibited by Migliore...and reflecting the impact he had on his sister in life, and now upon his ascension into Heaven.
One can effortlessly harness the recognition and knowledge that Migliore formally protected Michelle while here in the physical world; now, the younger brother, preserves her still, albeit from the supernatural realm from above.
When it came to play-time with children, it was easy to find Migliore in the mix of playful banter and silliness. "He loved kids" said his sister, Michelle. Everyone who knows Migliore readily agrees. A favorite pastime was enjoying his two young nephews, Jovany and Luis Carlos, at the family's home. Migliore, quite known for his athletic prowess, taught these two boys some of the intricacies of sportsmanship, strategy, and a champion's spirit. "The boys lit up around him. They loved him so much. And he enjoyed the boys equally so", said Jimmy Tovar, father of the two boys and Migliore's brother-in-law.
Senior Police Officer Hildebrand intimated how much his young son, Tyler, so thoroughly enjoyed the time when Migliore was around. "He was great with children" said Hildebrand, "and my son Tyler always enjoyed his company. That's just the kind of guy he is."
Everyone who knew Migliore knew his passion for hockey and, in particular, the Tampa Bay Lightning collective. His detective's unit office, where he conducted his investigations in-part--when he wasn't on the road investigating leads--is adorned with hockey pucks, hockey sticks, and hockey memorabilia. A fanatic for the game, Migliore played on two local hockey teams, and grew his base of friends--in this context, teammates--even wider.
In the rear of the funeral service room receiving his guests' respects, Migliore's funeral service, in particular, garnered the intertwinings of police accoutrements and hockey equipment, photographed depictions of both his passions, along with illustrations of his most-admired love: Dani, his fiancee'.
Evincingly, throughout the entire ordeal and through ostensibly-perpetual appointments with physicians and/or at testing facilities, Migliore's steadfastly loving and supportive fiancee', Dani "Doll" Gnatowsky, remained by his side during the battle against Cushing's Syndrome. There was nothing unusual about finding Dani at the hospital at all hours, all days, "all in" as Migs would say. An educator at a nearby high school in east Hillsborough County, Dani teaches full-time, attends graduate study classes to attain her Master's degree, while concurrently maintaining all aspects of their lives, together, throughout Migliore's illness.
It was personally inspiring and encouraging to witness the illumination in his eyes, the tempo amelioration in his intonations, his confident posture, when he spoke of Dani. It was many an occasion over pizza, that Migs intimated "how fortunate" he had become when Dani entered his life.
All who knew Migs knew his altruism, integrity, and caring spirit. Of significant exhibition of his many wonderful character traits was his pure love for Dani, promulgated when he spoke of her which, when conveyed, evinced an amalgamation of all-things-true-and-complete. In his own words: "I couldn't ask for anyone better. Dani is just incredible!"
Upon his most recent birthday, 12 January 2013, Migs unexpectedly presented at a local hospital to visit a friend. Within the context of that visit, Migs intimated how he "could not be more Blessed" than the happiness which he derived from loving Dani, and Dani loving him, with certitude and definitive accolades, aboundingly, robustly.
A devout believer in Christ, Migliore was raised Catholic. His funeral service was at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, Fla., and attended by a vast sea of law enforcement officers and firefighters, donning Class-A uniforms, to show respect for their fallen colleague and brother-in-arms, and to support his family suffering this tragic loss.
The caravan of police cruisers, fire department vehicles, and automobiles of family and friends stretched for miles, emergency lights and/or blinkers flashing, and traversed down Brandon Boulevard, after which it laced through the solemnity of Hillsboro Memorial Cemetery to a nearby burial site.
Under a large oak tree-shaded plot, Migs' casket emplaced inertly, draped with the flag of the United States of America, was shrouded by all who knew and loved him for countless deeds and memories. Law enforcement members and friends enveloped the family as they sat and said their goodbyes, symbolic of the intertwined families--kin and police--unified forever by a great man's life, and upon his death.
Taken from a Temple Terrace Police Department Announcement, the following was included at the bottom of its inscription: "In lieu of flowers, the family has established a college fund to accept donations for Detective Migliore’s nephews, Jovany and Luis Carlos, whom he adored. Donations may be sent to the office of Edward D. Jones and Company, in the interest of “Jovany Tovar” or “Luis Carlos Tovar” at 1532 Land O’Lakes Boulevard, Suite G, Lutz, Florida 33549. The family has requested to please denote “college fund” on all donations. May God Bless Detective Migliore."
As wittingly captured by Temple Terrace police officer Courtney Baldwin during the police funeral procession, a glimpse in the sideview mirror of a police cruiser demonstrates the nobility of a great law enforcement officer as his brothers-and-sisters-in-arms proceed to his final resting place. The focal point of the picture to which is alluded here--and can be seen in the attached slideshow--exhibits a string of police vehicles, fully illuminated, traversing a bend in the road.
Unwittingly, however, is the universal inscription on the mirror's surface delineating "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR". However euphemistically poetic, it has far-reaching meaning, especially to those in uniform who carry a badge and firearm, with a knowing reliance upon each other.
Indeed, the message is abundantly clear. Couple the image and inscription together, and one can focus on the Thin Blue Line connotation. Indeed, we are closer than what may be apparent, and more so. Detective Migliore evinced such a tenet in every second, every day, every month in his life, both on- and off-duty. For this, he is memorialized in his rightful place in our hearts, minds, and souls.
The touching sounds of bagpipes, played by a Tampa International Airport Police Department officer, wafted through the air.
Law enforcement officers and firefighters from numerous jurisdictions stood at attention in perfectly-rigid order, exhibiting unwavering honor and respect for Detective Migliore.
Respectfully routinized rituals during police funerals encompass the "final call" whereby a police communications officer is charged with broadcasting via police frequencies, hailing a police officer by his unit number. Temple Terrace police communications officer Chad Bennett courageously assumed the role and, as a long-time friend of Migs, performed this act with utmost respect and focused conduct. Not an easy task.
Having originated their respective law enforcement careers at the USFPD, Bennett and Migliore bonded well. Subsequently, both transferred career paths to the TTPD and worked the police functions, bound together by the police radio system.
Shortly after a 21-gun salute performed by a contingent of TTPD officers, Bennett, via police frequency piped-in at the burial service for Migs, broadcast the following End of Watch (EOW) declaration: "Temple Terrace Police calling 707. 707? 707? No response...final call for Temple Terrace police detective Chris Migliore." Bennett further declared departmental honorable intentions: "Detective Christopher Migliore's badge #51 and unit #707 will be retired forever, never to be assigned again."
This exact nanosecond, perhaps, marked the beginnning of the end in a manner of recognizing our fallen brother's place on earth, with ascension into Heaven from the physical realm with which we were invited to share with him.
Detective Christopher "Migs" Migliore will always remind those who know him as courageous, brave, professional, caring, affable, intelligent, spirited, personable, amiable, selfless, devoted, dedicated, prodigious, and all-loving, to name a scant few of his abundantly-rich qualities.
Detective Christopher "Migs" Migliore: End of Watch, 27 February 2013. Rest In Peace, brother.
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