When Frankie Shivers was going through the police academy in 1981, she wasn’t the most impressive candidate.
“Because she was small in stature, she had a hard time controlling the .45-caliber gun,” recalled Hollywood Lt. Ritchie Allen, now retired.
He remembered how the mother of two would spend four hours on Saturdays at shooting practice, and on weekdays put in several more hours of training than the rest of her class.
“She fought her way up with lots of effort,” he said.
Despite such an inglorious beginning, Shivers left a lasting impression on the department when she was killed in the line of duty just nine months on the job.
On Friday, Shivers was honored with a video tribute, created by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of law enforcement officers in the United States.
Only 25 officers nationally have received this honor.
Dozens of active and retired Hollywood police officers joined Shivers’ daughter, Stephanie Shivers, in viewing the five-minute video, which showed a portrait of Shivers superimposed over a U.S. flag while a narrator told her story.
Frankie Shivers was just 27 when she was killed, after responding to a back-up call.
A driver had hit the rear of a police car while officer John Lunney was writing a citation. Investigators later found that the driver, Geraldine Devine Terrell, 37, had intentionally hit the police cruiser in an attempt to kill herself.
Shivers climbed into the car and tried to pull Terrell to safety. Terrell grabbed the officer’s gun and shot Shivers twice, killing her.
Officers returned the gunfire, which killed Terrell. Months before, Terrell had been diagnosed as “depressed and dissatisfied with all aspects of her life.”
Even though she was only 4 when her mother died, Stephanie Shivers grew up wanting to become a police officer, but changed her mind when her own daughter Quyarra was born.
After the video was shown, Stephanie Shivers was approached by many of the officers, some of whom knew her mother.
“I got chills when I was told the story,” Arthur Metzler, 53, a retired officer, told Stephanie Shivers. He never met Frankie Shivers — he joined the department in 1985 — but said the story of her brave action has been transmitted through the years.
“The Hollywood Police Department never ever forgets Frankie Shivers,” said Metzler.
Shivers’ death led to a change in the bulletproof vests used by police officers in Broward County. Previously vulnerable side areas began being protected.
After her death, the Broward Police Academy created the Frankie Shivers Award, presented to the police officer in each graduating class who overcomes adversity and shows the biggest improvement.
Linda Wood, dean of the Broward Police Academy, said that with her tenacity and hard work, Shivers set the bar very high for future graduates: “Her legacy lives on and on.”