FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA – Family members, friends and colleagues paid their respects and shared stories of former Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro during his funeral service Monday.
Monday afternoon, Navarro was interred at Lauderdale Memorial Park Cemetery, his final resting place. Navarro, who was 81 when he died after a battle with colon cancer, helped bring reality TV to South Florida and even helped make a local rap group infamous.
Current Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti had been in touch with his predecessor and mentor during his final moments. At the funeral service, held earlier that same day at the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale, Lamberti recalled the day Navarro died: "Wednesday of last week, he obviously wanted to go home, and we arranged for an ambulance to take him to his house, and very fittingly ... cuz Nick called the shots ... we did a motorcycle escort to his home, in that ambulance, and within an hour, he had passed. It was almost like he knew that he wanted to be at peace, and he wanted to die at home."
After the service, Monday afternoon, a procession headed down State Road 84 from Federal Highway to Lauderdale Memorial Park Cemetery.
Navarro, who was Cuban, took his fight against organized crime to the national stage in the late 1980s when he allowed TV crews to follow his officers during raids. He would later allow the hit show "Cops" to film its first season in Broward County, in 1989.
Lamberti worked under Navarro when the cameras first rolled, and, Lamberti said, Navarro was right there during the crime busts. "He was the first guy through the door," Lamberti recalled. "He was the first guy through the door, and he wasn't shy about it. He loved being the first guy through the door."
BSO Media Spokesperson Jim Leljedal worked with Navarro back when he served as BSO's police chief from 1985 to early 1993. "It was a crazy time in South Florida and a wild ride working with and for Nick Navarro. He was the first cop in Broward County to go after organized crime and the mob and the mafia and the gangs."
Navarro's family and friends paid their final respects and looked back on the lasting legacy Navarro left behind in a county that he served for more than two decades. "He had Broward County in his heart. This whole county meant everything to him, well, the whole state actually," said Kaye Stevens, a Family Friend.
"Today truly is the end of an era," said Lamberti. "He brought us far, and today is the end of an era."
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