Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden and the family of fallen Orange County deputy Michael Callin keep his memory alive through random acts of kindness.
Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Callin was killed 14 years ago in the line of duty, but his memory lives on — most recently through random acts of kindness.
On Aug. 1, 2006, while operating a radar, Callin was intentionally struck by the driver of a speeding vehicle. He was standing under an overpass when the driver sped up, struck him and fled the scene. Callin was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries a day later.
At the time, Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden was working as a captain in OCSO’s traffic division — Callin was one of his deputies.
“It was a horrible time for us, a terrible tragedy,” Ogden said. “We probably didn’t sleep or anything for a few days. We were all in the hospital surrounding and trying to love and care for the family.”
In Callin’s memory, his parents created the Michael Callin Memorial Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to students and police-academy recruits who exemplify the qualities of integrity and service to others.
“The parents are very strong in their faith, and it’s been amazing to watch them go through this tragedy, which of course, I would say is part of our story later on going through our own tragedy … they very much so helped us in our struggles,” Ogden said. “They created the scholarship fund, which supports and pays for officers to go to the academy. Right now, the academy is probably around $3,000 to $3,500 to attend. People who are in the academy can apply for the scholarship. … It’s in honor of Michael, and it’s the character traits the family felt that Michael espoused and honored. It’s just one more way to honor him.”
The foundation’s board members — including the Callin family and Ogden — typically host an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser, but because of COVID-19, they had come up with another way to help carry on his legacy. This year, that involved paying it forward in Callin’s honor.
The Callins purchased hundreds of small, Igloo-type coolers and filled them with things such as water, cookies, snacks and personal notes thanking the officers for their service. The Windermere Police Foundation purchased about 50 coolers to give to Windermere officers, Ogden said. He asked his officers to pass along any extras to other officers they encounter.
“It’s just a simple way to say thank you to officers — particularly now who are in a very tough time for police officers around the country,” Ogden said. “We just wanted to say thank you for the service that you do, honor Michael’s memory, because he was very much a giving and caring deputy, and we thought this is the best way to promote that.”
But it’s more than just a small thank-you gift. Inside the coolers are small cards that give a brief story about Callin. On the back of the card is a list of ways that officers who receive the coolers can give back.
“We’re thanking officers for the job they’re doing; honoring and remembering Michael’s sacrifice, his memory, and the character and values that he had; and, in the same light, we’re actually paying it forward by asking officers to really engage in the public,” Ogden said. “This entire project really enveloped who Michael was and what he stood for, and I just think it’s an awesome way to honor him.”
Ogden remains close with the Callin family. They are an inspiration to him by the way they continue to honor their son’s memory.
“He was one of my officers, so I want to honor him as best I can because he was just a tremendous guy — he really was,” Ogden said. “His death was a tragedy … but this is just an amazing way to keep his memory alive.”