Chandler police detective Sean McKenzie was remembered Friday for his big heart, fun-loving personality and being what gatherers said was a top-notch officer.

McKenzie, a detective in the Family Crimes Unit, was killed March 15 in a motorcycle accident north of Maricopa. McKenzie, 41, was off duty when he was involved in a crash near Riggs Road and Arizona 347, according to a Chandler police spokesman.

“He was a good cop who fought for justice for the less fortunate and for those who could not fight for themselves,” Officer Len Bettendorf told a gathering of nearly 300 inside the LDS Stake Center in Mesa on Friday morning. “There is a void in the department.”

McKenzie was the second oldest of six children, born Oct. 23, 1972. He grew up in Mesa and was a 1992 graduate of Westwood High School. McKenzie joined the Army out of high school and worked as a correction officer in Florence, as well as in the Army National Guard before be joined the Chandler Police Department in 2001.

McKenzie served as a patrol officer, school recourse officer and in the D.A.R.E. program before he became a detective. McKenzie was also recently sworn in as the Chandler Law Enforcement Association’s treasurer.

“He really enjoyed working with kids and was a good role model in that position,” said Bettendorf, who met McKenzie in the police academy and joined Chandler’s police department at the same time.

Off-duty, McKenzie was remembered for the joy he often brought others and the fun he liked to have.

“He was so entertaining. That’s the one thing we’ll miss most, getting together and listening to his version of our memories,” younger brother Charlie McKenzie said. “Sean was always willing to make a sacrifice for his friends and family.

“We all learned from his example ... an incredible example.”

Charlie told the story of his brother’s first experience as a first responder, when McKenzie thrust Charlie into the ceiling while playing and then threw a Kool-Aid glass of water on his face when he blacked out.

Charlie also thanked Chandler officers who had stood guard over McKenzie’s body since the accident.

A benefit barbecue is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Chandler Police Department headquarters, 250 E. Chicago St. The benefit is for McKenzie’s children, 15-year-old daughter, Taylor, and 10-year-old son, Jace.

Donations also can be sent to the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, P.O. Box 238, Chandler, AZ 85225.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

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