By RICHARD DYMOND
Bradenton Herald Reporter
In the span of a few seconds on a Carolina road, Longboat Key, Sarasota and Bradenton lost a public servant whose great gift, friends said, was building bridges between people.
Al Hogle, 63, Longboat Key's police chief, but also Sarasota's mayor in the 1990s and Bradenton's police chief in the early 2000s, died about 1 p.m. Monday.
He was on a motorcycle outing in the Carolinas with about a half dozen police buddies when he crashed his motorcycle, said Paul Dezzi, fire chief of Longboat Key.
"He just went off the road, hit a tree and died instantly," Dezzi said.
A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hogle was Bradenton's police chief from September 2001 until December, 2002. He left Bradenton to become Longboat Key's police chief.
He was a Sarasota city commissioner from November, 1989 through September 2001 and was mayor of Sarasota during a portion of that time.
"When Al came to Bradenton we were in a state of transition," said Bradenton Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey. "We were a small town agency that realized we needed to work with the surrounding agencies to handle some of the issues we were facing."
Hogle used his networking and other professional skills to link Bradenton with other agencies statewide to fight numerous new problems, including gangs, Barnebey said.
"He reached out to the Sarasota Police Department where he had worked and other agencies to help us," Barnebey said.
Hogle served from 1970 through 1998 in the Sarasota Police Department, working in SWAT and narcotics suppression and retired as a captain.
Hogle always had a laid back demeanor, except when it came to fighting crime. Then he put on his game face, said Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.
"One time we were working a drug case together and he and I chased a guy and had to jump a huge canal," Steube said. "We caught him. We were both runners and remained so. Al took pride in being physically fit. We once ran the Special Olympics torch together."
"Al Hogle was truly a great guy and gentleman," said Bradenton Police Chief Mike Radzilowski. "He was always mild-mannered and soft spoken. He was my friend and I will truly miss him."
Hogle was born in Biloxi, Miss., and graduated from Sarasota High School and the University of South Florida.
"I don't know what to say," Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston remarked Monday. "He was my first police chief, a guy I trusted to clean up the department and he did that. We were at Ribfest together a few weeks ago and I gave Al a cigar. He said, 'Mayor, I will smoke this in the mountains with the guys.'"
Also grieving are Hogle's wife, Leslie and his mother, Bradenton's Norma Hogle, the only person to call the chief, "Albert."
Hogle also has siblings and scores of other local family and friends.
Leslie Hogle made a trip from Sarasota to Bradenton to tell Hogle's mother the tragic news in person Monday afternoon rather than having to tell her by phone, friends said.
Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock will be making a decision in the next day or two as to who will immediately step in as Longboat Key's police chief, said Captain Bill Tokajer of the Longboat Key Police Department.
Hogle's family indicated Monday that the chief had wanted to be cremated.
"He will be sent from South Carolina to Toale Brothers Funeral Home in Sarasota, which will be in charge of the arrangements," said Barnebey, who is also a close family friend. "His cremains will be placed at the National Cemetery in Sarasota. The family is also talking to Grace Baptist Church, but a service day and time has not been decided at this time."
Published in The Bradenton Herald from May 15 to June 4, 2012