Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Florida: End of Watch Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Anthony Edward “Tony” Forgione was born on August 21, 1974, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. By his high school years, his family had moved to the small beach town of Niceville, Florida in the panhandle. He was a good-looking, popular kid in high school, graduating in 1992. In 1997, he met the lady that he fell in love with, Jessica Martin. They were married on June 7, 1997.
What does a young man do when he wants to serve his hometown? He joins the police. That is what Tony did – he chose his career when he joined the Fort Walton Police Department. Later, in 2005, he changed departments and began working as a deputy sheriff with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
On July 22, 2008, Tony, who also served on the department’s SWAT team, was notified that a man who had been court ordered to undergo a mental evaluation was taken to a mental hospital in Fort Walton Beach, but he soon walked out of the facility, which was not secure. He was again picked up by deputies. This time, he kicked out the window of the police car. After he was returned to the mental facility, he again walked out.
After the second walkout, he armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun and barricaded himself in his childhood home in Fort Walton Beach.
The sheriff’s office was notified and again responded. Hostage negotiators and members of the department’s SWAT team – including Tony – arrived on scene. After repeated attempts were made to contact the suspect and a question as to his status, the SWAT team entered. Tony caught a blast from the suspect’s shotgun mortally wounding him.
After engaging the suspect and striking him twice, he turned the gun on himself and fire a fatal round, killing him instantly.
Tony, who left behind his wife Jessica and two daughters, memorialized at a funeral on July 26, 2008, at the Niceville Assembly of God Church. He was buried in the Heritage Gardens Cemetery in Niceville.
Subsequent to Tony’s death, the Shalimar Bridge on State Road 85 South (Eglin Parkway) over Garnier’s Bayou was named “Deputies Tony Forgione and Bill Myers Memorial Bridge” https://goo.gl/maps/NKZggsas9eckKhmM9
In 2009, the Florida House of Representatives introduced, and the Florida Senate approved the Mental Illness/Deputy Anthony Forgione Act. The law now requires a law enforcement agency that transports persons to a receiving facility to have a memorandum of understanding with the facility. Requires that custody of a person who is transported to a receiving or treatment facility be relinquished to a responsible person at the facility. Specifies that a psychiatric examination by certain personnel be conducted face-to-face, in person or by electronic means, etc. (https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=39970&)
Every year since 2009, the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office has held the area’s annual SWAT competition event in Tony’s honor. https://spotonflorida.com/eastern-panhandle/3806308/fallen-ocso-deputy-tony-forgione-swat.html
Tony Forgione was a great deputy. His death left a vacant place in many hears for fourteen years and will continue being missed.