Valencia College Mourns Fallen Officers, Criminal Justice Institute Alumni


Photo: City of Orlando

Valencia College Criminal Justice Institute Alumni Master Sgt. Debra Clayton and Deputy First Class Norman Lewis.

On Monday, January 9, 2017 tragedy struck the Valencia College community and the city of Orlando as two law enforcement officers were killed in what would result in a massive manhunt. Suspected murderer Markeith Loyd of Pine Hills, has been wanted since mid-December in the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.

Orlando Police Department Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was at the Walmart on Princeton Street in Orlando when she was alerted about the suspect being on the premises. Officer Clayton approached and attempted to apprehend Loyd when he opened fire, striking her and ultimately killing her.

After the shooting, a manhunt for Loyd was underway. Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy First Class Norman Lewis was one of the officers assisting in the search while traveling on his police motorcycle when he was struck by another vehicle on Pine Hills Road. He was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he later died from his injuries.

Both Master Sgt. Debra Clayton and Deputy Norman Lewis were Valencia College students that graduated from the Police Academy now known as the School of Public Safety’s Criminal Justice Institute.

Clayton graduated from the Institute on May 20, 1999 and upon graduation, attended 13 advanced and specialized courses. She attended the Public Safety Leadership while also attending the Development Certification Program in 2013. Clayton also worked closely with Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute and as a community ambassador for law enforcement.

Lewis graduated from the Institute in August 2005 and also attended advanced and specialized courses.

In the aftermath of these deaths, Valencia College will now honor the two officers for their commitment to serving and protecting the community and making a positive impact on those that knew them and those that had the privilege of coming into contact with them.

Valencia College’s School of Public Safety will dedicate their annual Fallen Officers Memorial to Master Sgt. Clayton and Deputy First Class Lewis. The event will take place in April and though difficult, will be sentimental as “many people here knew one of them and have been affected,” stated Carol Traynor, Director of Public Relations at Valencia College.

Valencia College’s annual Fallen Officers Memorial event is just the beginning of the memorial season for fallen officers. These events take place on a local, state and national level. As Jeffrey Goltz, Executive Dean with the School of Public Safety at Valencia College explained, “A local Orange County ceremony is held during the first week of May which leads up to National Police Week later in May. National Police Week is a collaborative effort of many organizations dedicated to honoring America’s law enforcement community in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.”

Since Valencia College took over the Criminal Justice Institute from Mid Florida Tech in 1996, the school has endured a personal loss of graduates a number of times. Master Sgt. Clayton and Deputy First Class Lewis’ untimely deaths bring the total of fallen officers from Valencia College now to eight.

The preceding fallen officers are as follows: OPD Officer Robert Montgomery, OPD Officer Tanja King, OSCO Deputy Michael Callin, OSCO Deputy Brandon Coates, OSCO Deputy Sebastian Diana and OSCO Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine.

The college and community are yet again mourning the loss of dedicated and respected officers, and will continue to honor their memory and legacy with respect and gratitude. Law enforcement officers sacrifice their very own safety in the line of duty in order to keep the community safe and many have paid the ultimate price.

They will never be forgotten.