Tribute to William “Buddy” Sentner

Remarks Delivered by Glenn A. Fine
Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice
St. James Cathedral, Orlando, Florida

June 24, 2006

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Buddy Sentner was a hero. He was also a husband, son, brother, valued colleague, and a good friend to many. And for all of us gathered here today to honor him, especially to his wife, Maria, his mother, his father, his step parents, his brother and sisters, his other family members, and all those who worked with him, Buddy was someone who made a difference.

My name is Glenn Fine, and I am the Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice. I am honored to be asked by the family to speak at this service as we remember Buddy, the contributions he made as a Special Agent in the Office of the Inspector General, and the impact he had on the lives of the people who were fortunate enough to work with him and know him.

Let me begin by offering my deepest sympathies on behalf of all 400 employees of the Office of the Inspector General to Buddy’s family on their loss. During the past three days, we have witnessed an outpouring of sympathy and support from all corners of the law enforcement and OIG communities – ranging from the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the FBI Director, the DEA Administrator, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, to Buddy’s colleagues in other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country, to even the public citizens who never knew Buddy but read about him in the newspaper and called our offices to ask how they could honor Buddy’s memory.

Also in Buddy’s honor, the Attorney General ordered that flags at all Justice Department buildings throughout the country be flown at half-staff.

We were lucky to have Buddy come to work at the OIG. He had an impressive background, graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in criminology and continuing on with the masters program in public policy at Georgetown University. After college, he pursued his life-long goal of becoming a federal law enforcement agent. Buddy’s mother told me earlier this week that Buddy had decided early in life that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer. In 1989, he began serving with the Secret Service, first in its Uniformed Division, then on the Vice Presidential detail, then as a Special Agent in the Secret Service’s Phoenix Field Office.

When some of our agents who knew him from the Secret Service heard that he was considering a move, they reached out and encouraged him to come to the OIG. And we were very fortunate to attract such a dedicated, committed, and experienced agent.

Buddy joined the OIG’s San Diego Field Office in July 2002, and a year later transferred to Coleman, Florida, as part of our Miami Field Office.

In the four years he worked with the OIG, Buddy became known throughout our organization as a skilled polygrapher, a tenacious special agent, and an experienced firearms instructor. He worked with many of our agents throughout the country and was willing to pursue even the toughest cases wherever they led. He approached each case with an open mind, without any agenda, other than to do what was right and to seek the truth. Buddy loved working as a law enforcement officer, and he was outstanding at his work.

He was also a loyal friend to many of the other agents he worked with in the Miami Field Office and throughout the country. They knew him as a mild-mannered person, with a soft spot for children, and someone who loved a good practical joke. He also gave back to the community in his free time, coaching local children in wrestling, a sport he loved and excelled in.

His friends remember these and other qualities that made Buddy such a superb agent and a valued friend.

Like other law enforcement agents, Buddy recognized that his job was dangerous and difficult. It is not an easy job to investigate any corrupt federal employees who abuse their trust and prey upon others. But Buddy and other OIG agents were not afraid and did not shy away from duty or danger. He, and they, worked tirelessly to make the Department of Justice, and the country, better and safer. Buddy was committed to his job and to protecting others.

That is how he lived, and that is how he died. Buddy was shot and killed Wednesday morning in the line of duty as he worked as part of an OIG/FBI team to execute arrest warrants on six federal correctional officers in Tallahassee, Florida. When a correctional officer who was being arrested opened fire, Buddy returned fire and acted with extraordinary courage.

I believe that Buddy’s brave actions under fire saved the lives of several other federal employees, while giving his own life.

Buddy Sentner lived like a hero and he died as a hero.

To Maria and the family – we join in your deep sorrow at this tragic loss. On behalf of the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Justice, and the law enforcement community, we will always remember and be grateful for Buddy’s dedication and the sacrifice he made in service to this country. He will be sorely missed.

I thank you for this opportunity to honor Buddy Sentner, and may God bless you all.