Trooper Luther P. Daniel was the first Florida Highway Trooper killed in the line of duty. It was Dec. 5, 1941, just two days before the Pearl Harbor attacks. Daniel had stopped a Georgia prison escapee who had been speeding in a stolen car. He was shot in the head during the stop just north of Homestead, Florida, after just six months on the job. Daniel left behind a wife and a son, Bill Daniels, who still lives in Key West.

Trooper Luther P. Daniel

“They never forgot me. The Florida Highway Patrol never forgot me. I remember that Christmas when I was 9 years old, I had more gifts than any kid in Key West, and they were all from troopers,” said Bill, 88, of the continued support of the law enforcement officers as he grew up. 

The remarks were made at a special ceremony inside the Monroe County Sheriff’s Hangar on Oct. 22 and attended by the state director of FHP, Col. Gene Spaulding, FHP Lt. Kathleen McKinney, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, sheriff deputies, local troopers and FWC officers. The occasion was the unveiling of a section of U.S.1 on the mainland near Cutler Bay that is now known as the Trooper Luther P. Daniel Memorial Highway.

Before becoming an FHP trooper, Daniel served two years as a motorcycle cop with the Key West Police Department. Daniel graduated from the third class of the FHP academy. At the time, there were about 59 troopers to serve the entire state. In 2020, there are close to 2,000. 

“You will always remain in our thoughts and prayers,” Spaulding told Bill. 

Ramsay also spoke, saying, “I believe in the partnerships we have formed in Monroe County. The good guys are right here in this room. Every day on the job, law enforcement officers take a risk, but we are stronger together,” Ramsay said.

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.