Hillsborough County lost a good cop on Monday.
Walter C. Heinrich, 83, passed away in his home. Sheriff Heinrich, as he will always be known to many, leaves a legacy of hard-nosed law enforcement and hometown humbleness so inspiring to all of us. Many saw the face of a tough cop, in newspapers and on television, as he concocted elaborate stings to nab unsuspecting crooks and white collar criminals. Fewer saw the man's humorous side, from making prank telephone calls to colleagues to entertaining some with his array of fake accents.
His laugh was genuine, so was his drive to be a good cop.
Sheriff Heinrich was a Navy veteran, serving during World War II. His gritty German heritage served him well during his service to his country, and in the years following as he joined the Tampa Police Department, and then the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
HIs connection to the community was evident in his three elections to the office of Sheriff of Hillsborough County, from 1980-1992. He was powerful and popular. Criminals took notice of him, and employees learned from him.
Sheriff Heinrich cherished many of the commendations and memorabilia from his 46 years in law enforcement. His condominium displayed numerous photographs and plaques of his years with a badge. Each one had a story, and Sheriff Heinrich could recall it with ease. He loved a good joke, and a good story. He took pride in sharing stories of cases and events from his days working a call box on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa to the stings of narco-traffickers during his tenure as Sheriff. Like all good cops, he wanted to help the good people and put the bad ones in jail.
Sheriff Heinrich, we will miss you. Thank you for your service, sir. May you rest in peace.
Funeral arrangements for Retired Sheriff Walter C. Heinrich are as follows:
Viewing will be held on Saturday, February 20, 2010, at Idlewild Baptist Church, 18371 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Lutz, from 1200 hours until 1400 hours followed by the Memorial Service beginning at 1400 hours to 1500 hours. The Internment will immediately follow at the Garden of Memories, 4207 East Lake Avenue, Tampa.
Sheriff David Gee Remembers Sheriff Walter C. Heinrich:
Sheriff Heinrich Photo Gallery: