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Hero Down: Tampa Police Officer Matthew McNeal Succumbs To Brain Cancer

Wesley Chapel, FL – Tampa Police Department (TPD) Officer Matthew “Matt” David McNeal died on Jan. 2 after a lengthy battle against brain cancer, according to his department.

The 34-year-old officer was surrounded by his family members when he passed away, the TPD said in a press release on Monday.

Officer McNeal graduated from Hillsborough Community College with an Associates of Arts degree prior to joining the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) as a corrections officer at the Orient Road Jail, according to his obituary.

He served the HCSO for five years.

Officer McNeal was hired by the TPD in June of 2014 and was initially assigned to Uniform Patrol, the TPD said.

He transitioned to the department’s Special Operations Division Bike Unit four years ago.

“He just really enjoyed being in contact with different people and meeting different people, especially being on the bike squad,” fellow TPD Officer Brian Balch told WTVT. “We’d come in with people more on a personal basis.”

Officer Balch said Officer McNeal “was one of the greatest people” he’s ever met.

“He was incredibly upbeat the entire time,” he said, referring to Officer McNeal’s cancer battle. “He was so strong in his faith and that carried him through, even to the end.”

Officer Balch said Officer McNeal’s death “is a tragic loss to the entire department,” WTVT reported.

“If everyone could live like Matt McNeal, the world would be a better place,” he added.

Officer McNeal received a Community Policing Award, one Unit Citation, an Excellent Duty Award, and two Live-Saving Awards during his service with the TPD, according to the agency’s press release.

“His fellow officers and supervisors remember him as a kind and humble man, who loved being a police officer,” the police department said.

Officer McNeal leaves behind his wife, Mandy, and their children, nine-year-old Madison and seven-year-old Elias, according to his obituary.

“Matt loved being a husband and a dad. He had a heart for family and always wanted others to be included, accepted and loved,” his obituary read.

He is also survived by his parents, sisters, extended family members, friends, “and hundreds of TPD brothers and sisters,” the police department said.

Officer McNeal will be laid to rest on Jan. 11, according to his obituary.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tampa Police Department Officer Matthew “Matt” David McNeal, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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