On Aug. 26, Flagler County Sheriff’s Corrections Deputy Paul Luciano died of complications from Covid. “There’s no more worse feeling in this world than losing someone like your father and wanting nothing else in this world but your father,” his daughter Tina Luciano wrote. On Thursday, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office led a procession from Volusia Memorial Gardens to Craig Flagler palms Funeral Home in Palm Coast, and this morning led a procession to First Baptist Church in Bunnell, where funeral services were held before a return to Craig Flagler Palms for the burial. Sheriff Rick Staly delivered a eulogy. The full prepared text appears below.
On behalf of the entire Luciano family and all the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, thank you for being here today as we celebrate the life of a true hero, Detention Deputy Paul Luciano.
This is a tough day for all of us. And, we begin this service doing the same thing we have been doing for the last 7 days, wondering why Paul lost his life serving and protecting our community. We may never know that answer.
Today is our darkest hour. As Sheriff this is the day I feared would come, but prayed it never would. I never wanted to wear this dress uniform. We never wanted to be here today. This is our first Detention Deputy to die in the line-of-duty in the history of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. I hope it’s our last line-of-duty death. Sadly, Paul now joins two sheriffs, two deputies and a Sergeant that have previously died in the-line-of-duty serving our community.
Today, we will do our best, Paul, to honor you, pay tribute, and show our respect for the man, the husband, the father, the son, the brother and the outstanding deputy sheriff that you were. We know you are looking down on us and we hope we make you proud for being a Flagler County Deputy Sheriff.
This is a tough time for all of us. We are hurting. We are sad and our team is devastated, but we are strong individually and even stronger together. And while I and others will do our best, I am sure we will not make it through this service without showing some emotion, so please bear with us as we grieve together while we honor a hero lost. It’s okay to shed some tears. We are heartbroken.
Our greatest of thanks go out to Pastor Danny Brown and his team at First Baptist Church of Bunnell for opening their doors and allowing us to hold Paul’s service here and making us feel so welcome. I also want to thank all the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office who have worked tirelessly over the last several days so that we could plan and offer this tribute to our fallen hero, Deputy Paul Luciano. We thank all the Agencies that have helped us honor Paul this week and especially the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office that is staffing our jail today so that our Detention staff can attend this service.
Today, you will hear from his family, friends and co-workers about Paul Luciano, the husband, the father, the son, the brother, the mentor, and beloved FCSO family member.
So, what I am going to do is try to tell you some things about Paul Luciano, the Deputy Sheriff, the hero, the mentor, the friend, who died working to mentor inmates to turn their life around, who mentored younger, less experienced deputies, and who served to protect the community by guarding inmates in the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility. He even did this during a pandemic when he could have quit. He didn’t need the paycheck, after all he had already retired once. He did it because of his passion and compassion to serve.
Detention Deputies and Correctional Officers are often the invisible heroes in a Sheriff’s Office. They are rarely seen but they often face as much danger as their law enforcement counterparts, especially during a pandemic and maybe even more so because of the nature of their job. They can’t social- distance, they are in a closed environment for 12-hours a day but they still have to serve inmate’s meals, conduct patrols, head counts, search inmates and much, much more.
Unlike law enforcement deputies, Detention Deputies know they are always interacting with criminals, drug addicts and people with mental health issues in every encounter. In fact, some of the most dangerous individuals to deal with are in jail.
So let me tell you about Deputy Paul Luciano, or “looch” as he was known to our team.
Paul started his career with the Bunnell Police Department in 1996 as a police officer. But he found his real calling when he changed career tracks and joined the Volusia County Department of Corrections in 1998, rising through the ranks to Lieutenant before retiring in 2017. He served at Club 92, the Volusia Branch Jail. He enjoyed helping inmates turn their life around, getting off drugs so they could become productive citizens. That was his passion and in the last few days I’ve heard about the many lives he changed.
In 2019 he applied to be a Detention Deputy with our sheriff’s office. In the hiring process, I’m the last stop! I remember asking Paul, why do you want to come back to work in a jail and start over as a Deputy Sheriff when you retired as a Lieutenant. He told me he had a passion to help people, help inmates turn their lives around and mentor younger officers. So, he went from working at Club 92 to working at the Green Roof Inn!
Paul quickly developed friendships with Detention Deputies and civilian staff, where he would mentor and encourage them. If “Looch” was around you could always trust him to give you sound advice. So let me tell you about some of that advice:
- He would preach the importance of vitamin D and getting 20 minutes of sun each day, especially when on the night shift. I even heard a rumor that he was handing out more victim D pills than a poison peddler could sell to their customers!
- We noticed our fruit in the employee lunch room would disappear when Looch’s squad was working. Until now I didn’t know why, but now I do. Looch was always eating fruit and was often seen taking arm-loads of fruit back to the housing control area.
- He loved telling old school “one-liners” but his squad didn’t reveal what they were, so I’m guessing the statute of limitations hasn’t expired yet!
- He was funny in a way that inspired the squad and always saw the joy and fun in everything. I’m told he loved it when I called an arrestee a “Dirtbag.” Don’t worry Looch, I won’t stop saying it when the dirtbag deserves it!
- Paul was the only Detention Deputy that wore a duty belt suspender. His squad told him it was his “tactical suspender for horsepower.”
- He was very proud of the thumb drive he “borrowed” when he retired from Volusia. It was full of memorable “training videos” that he loved to show to his squad. I suspect this was not authorized by our IT or Volusia Corrections, but we’ll give him a pass on that.
- When fellow deputies were struggling with a tough issue, he would share his faith to help them get through the issue and comfort them. In fact, when I last talked to him, before he was placed on a ventilator, I told him to keep up the fight. He told me, “Sheriff, I’m fighting but it’s in God’s hands.” His faith was strong and because of that he is in paradise today!
- But I think that if he was here today, he would tell you his biggest accomplishment, besides his wife and family, were the inmate lives he turned around by encouraging them to change their life, which many did, and to the employees he mentored. In fact, he mentored a civilian CCTV operator encouraging him to attend the Corrections Academy to become a Detention Deputy. Lulu, if Paul was here today, I know he would be very proud that you are in the academy and will soon be a Detention Deputy!
Paul believed in treating people fairly and he prided himself on treating inmates the way he would want to be treated. That is why Paul was respected by our inmates and our employees.
I have to tell you some of the things I learned while talking to his wife, Carrie: he had a pilot’s license for many years and loved flying. He also loved Chinese food. I’m not sure how Chinese food and fruit complement each other but that was our Paul. When we told the staff at China One in Palm Coast that Paul had passed, they immediately started talking in Chinese. Frankly, we don’t know what they were saying but their tears said it all. Paul had an impact wherever he went. So, when you eat Chinese food for lunch after the services today, think and remember Paul. (Don’t worry, we also have BBQ!)
Carrie also told me that he loved the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office over and above all the places he worked…sorry Bunnell and Volusia Corrections! We’re Number 1 and Paul knew it!
His father, Ted, and his wife, Carrie, told me that Paul loved to tinker and was in the process of rebuilding his boat engine so that he could take his kids and grandkids boating. Well, the engine’s fixed but not installed so along with his son Dan, that is a mechanic, we’re going to do our best to finish the job for Paul so they can take the family boat ride he wanted.
Paul and Carrie were married 42-years and had three beautiful children, Tina, Dan and Brian. And Carrie…. from our discussions over the last few days, it’s obvious that you and Paul shared a unique bond and love that many people would be jealous of and that is something that you can carry with you forever. They even worked together at Volusia Department of Corrections. Your commitments to each other over those 42 years, almost 43 years as in just five days they would have celebrated another anniversary, can never be taken away. In fact, I noticed a sign under your living room TV that said “All this because two people fell in love.”
I think that sign says it all.
Tina, Dan and Brian, nothing lacked in his commitment and love for you and the grandkids. That’s why it was so important to him to rebuild the boat motor so you all could have family boat trips together, especially with the grandchildren.
Carrie, you lost your husband; Brian, Dan and Tina, you lost your father; Ted, you lost your son and Saundra and David, a brother. Sadly, nothing will bring him back. I wish we could. But know that Deputy Luciano died a hero, giving his own life to protect our community. And for that our community owes you eternal gratitude.
It is for his dedication to this community, our Agency, his co-workers and the inmates he carefully watched-over I am posthumously promoting Paul to Detention Deputy First Class.
Carrie, we will always be here for you and your children. We will never let you fade away and you will always be part of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office family…and family protects and takes care of family. We will take care of you and protect you.
So, this is tough. Where do we go from here? What do we do now after such a loss? The Bible gives us guidance in Revelation 21:4 which says: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
So, look to God and feel His healing hands as He holds you and know that He has welcomed Paul to the Kingdom of heaven; and, if I know Paul, he is extending a hand and trying to mentor those in hell, just as Jesus did to those that died with Him on the cross, so they can repent and turn their souls around to enter Paradise, just like he did everyday with the inmates under his care.
May the love of family and friends give you, and all of us, the strength and the comfort we need as we move forward. We’ll take it from here, Deputy First Class Luciano. Your earthly watch is completed.
May God bless and continue to watch over the Luciano family and the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and all correctional and law enforcement officers everywhere. I know we have a new angel protecting all of us as we continue to serve our community, especially during this pandemic.