Procession honors the life of Sanibel Officer Anthony Neri

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Officer Anthony Neri. Credit: City of Sanibel.

On Wednesday, police officers are saying goodbye to their brother-in-blue. Sanibel Police Officer Anthony Neri collapsed during a training exercise last week.

One widow, who knows the pain of losing her husband, came out to pay her respects. Her husband was also a Sanibel Police Officer.

The morning began with a long procession to the church where Sanibel Police Officer Neri would be remembered.

Bagpipes played, followed by a long moment of silence as law enforcement from all over Southwest Florida paid their respects, including Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

“Just a heavy heart,” Sheriff Marceno said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow family member. It’s a sad day for us.”

The family asked not to have media inside the procession. WINK News honored that wish. Before becoming a police officer, Neri spent 30 years as a revenue officer with the Treasury. The Sanibel Police Chief describes him as a consummate professional.

A sad day Patricia Slater is familiar with. She lost her husband, a detective with the Sanibel Police Department, five years ago.

Out of respect to the Neri family,” Slater said, “I felt in my heart it was important to go and extend my sincerest sympathy to them.”

On the force since 2012, Neri made a significant impact not only with his colleagues but within the community.

“He was always across the street with a big smile to me every time he saw me,” said Shelia Zuhusly, a neighbor.

A big smile that will remain etched in people’s memories and serve as a reminder of the daily service of officers like Neri.

“These men and women that put their lives on the line every day,” Slater said. “It’s something that we all think about and we’re all thankful when they come home at the end of the day.”

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