Fallen Jacksonville officer appeared on 2004 episode of "COPS"

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that Lance C. Whitaker, 48, was killed after his patrol car spun off I-295 and hit a tree near Alta Drive.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Lance Whitaker died after crashing his patrol car early Tuesday morning.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the crash was likely due to the wet roads.

Whitaker was a 17-year veteran of JSO. In a 2004 episode of the TV series "COPS," Whitaker talked about why he became an officer.

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“Initially, I became interested in law enforcement after a ride-along with a buddy of mine (who) works for the Sheriff’s Office. What kinda got me hooked was the first call I went on with him was a burglary in progress, a couple units, with us kicking in doors trying to apprehend suspects. After that, fun and excitement is basically why I wanted to get into law enforcement,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker had a calm demeanor throughout the "COPS" episode, even when a man ran from him.

“Listen, you’re going to go to jail for possession of cocaine and resisting without violence. Any questions?” he said to the suspect.

Law enforcement sources said Whitaker was a good guy and a good officer.

JSO Director Mike Bruno said Whitaker’s death is a reminder that law enforcement officers make sacrifices and take risks every day.

“That's what these men and women are. They’re heroes and, unfortunately, some of them don't come back,” Bruno said.