By John M. Hayden
The first law enforcement officer in all of Florida to be taken from us by COVID-19 was one of our own. Deputy Shannon Bennett was a 12 year veteran of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), a member of our community, and a fianceé who was set to get married later this year. Fewer people could make our community prouder.
Shannon was engaged to Jonathan Frey. The longtime friends took their relationship to the next level in 2018, which culminated in December 2019 with Shannon getting down on one knee in front of Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World. The couple recently set this coming December as their date to tie the knot.
Sadly, the global pandemic that has upset all our lives came through and devastated theirs. Shannon started feeling sick in late March, and after four days his condition deteriorated to the point he needed to check himself into the hospital. Jonathan has said Shannon started showing some improvement after treatment, but the virus was too much for his body to handle and he passed away on April 3, 2020.
The story is even more heartbreaking because Jonathan couldn’t be by Shannon’s side. COVID-19 is so easily spread, hospitals restrict visitors for patients with the virus. Jonathan has said he is grieving by himself since everyone is supposed to stay at home.
Jonathan’s loss is a loss for all of us. Shannon was an out and proud member of our community. Many social media posts show him out on “the drive” or in his softball league shirt. Strong, healthy, and with a smile plastered on his face as he posed with Jonathan, Shannon was happy with who he was, where he was, and what he was doing.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony told WSVN that Shannon was working on equality and inclusion for our community within the department. “He was a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and he wanted to see a committee formed here at this agency,” Tony said. “We put it together and he sat with members of our organization to figure out better ways to bond the network inside this community.”
Shannon was also working with South Florida’s next generation. His specific job within the department was working as a school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary School. It was good training for him, as Jonathan said they both wanted to eventually have children.
While Shannon may be physically gone, we can all make sure his spirit lives on. His spirit of community. His spirit of public service. His spirit of love.
The Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council has created a COVID-19 First Responder Victims Fund in Memory of Deputy Shannon Bennett. 100% of your donation will go to support the families of first responder victims of COVID-19. If you’d like to donate, please visit www.SheriffsAdvisoryCouncil.com/COVID-19-Fund, or you may donate by phone at (754) 234-1395.