As we commemorate National Police Week 2013, being held as an annual event in Washington, D.C., we view local police entities and their recognition of those who have paid the ultimate price.
National Police Week commenced Saturday, essentially, with the National Police Week 5k runners’ competition as it wended through the downtown streets of Washington, D.C. The race results are posted on the National Police Week 5K site.
On a local front, the Tampa Police Department recognized fallen law enforcement officers via participation in the Police Unity Tour, an annual event whereby police officers bicycle approximately 250 miles from Virginia to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial site.
This year, a contingent of Tampa police officers joined in such an effort and bicycled to Washington, DC, arriving there on Sunday, May 12, 2013, evincing their mantra “We Ride For Those Who Died”. The Tampa Police Department was represented among countless other officers from jurisdictions nationwide.
This week’s events in Washington, D.C., resonate in the 32nd annual National Police Officers’ Memorial Service on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, held on the West Front premises of the U.S. Capitol. President Obama will address the crowd and top members of his administration will be on hand to pay respects.
Jane Castor, the police chief of the Tampa, Fla., police department, was involved in this year’s Police Unity Tour and riding for Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney, who succumbed to gunfire in a drug raid April 12, 2012. The Greenland Police Department is a 12-officer, small agency in New Hampshire, yet its loss is nonetheless significant.
Castor’s department employs 1,000-plus officers, paradoxically different from the Greenland Police Department in terms of force strength and geographical culture. Castor noted the magnitudinal loss of the officer, Chief Maloney, not the size of his department.
“There is nothing more devastating for any law enforcement agency than to lose one of its officers,” echoed Castor. No stranger to the grievous, calamatous loss of a police officer, Castor has endured several during her brief tenure as police chief of the Tampa Police Department (TPD).
The St. Petersburg Police Department, in St. Petersburg, Fla., honored fallen officers by hosting its annual Partners For Life Police Appreciation Run/Walk held earlier this month in downtown, St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg police officers Jeffrey Yaslowitz, Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and David Crawford, all killed within one month in 2011, were honored.
The St. Petersburg Police Memorial site was unvieled in October 2012. Heroes of the St. Petersburg Police memorial site was erected in Demings Landing Park. Personalized pavers line the premises, fitting together like pieces of a puzzle, on each inscribed a name or date, etc.
Designed to incorporate members of the community with its police force, the memorial rests within this small, island-like park, and depicts the very real nature of the perils in law enforcement while salvaging the lives of citizens.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa, Fla., held its commemoration on Wednesday, May 13, 2013, at 7:30 pm in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, in Tampa, Fla. HCSO had an outdoor function consisting of recognition of law enforcement deputies who have perished in the line of duty. The HCSO Honor Guard displayed its disciplined, respectful honor system, including 21-gun salute.
Within the constructs of Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park lies the Heroes Plaza, opened on September 11, 2009, the eight anniversary of 09/11/01. Heroes Plaza comprises and honors all law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County.
The Plant City Police Department in Plant City, Fla., honored its fallen officers at the Heroes Plaza ceremony.
A more evolving trend among law enforcement agencies is recognition of slain police K-9 officers. Pursuant to Florida statute, law enforcement service dogs are official officers of the law and thus accorded honors as much as human counterparts. A police canine slain in the line of duty holds for its killer(s) similar criminal justice penalties if convicted of murdering a police canine in a Court of law.
A unified effort by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clearwater Police Department, both in Pinellas County, Fla., held a police memorial ceremony honoring law enforcement canines lost in the line of duty and/or during retirement years. PCSO and CPD held its memorial on May 07, 2013 at 4:00 pm at the Curlew Hills Memory Gardens Pet Cemetery located in Palm Harbor, Fla.
This concerted effort was co-hosted by each agency’s respective Police Canine Unit.
Independently, the Clearwater Police Department honored its fallen officers, four slain since 1967, at a ceremony held on Friday, May 03, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., at Station Square Park in Clearwater, Fla.
The Belleair Police Department, a small municipal agency also in Pinellas County, Fla., recognized its fallen, namely police officer Jeffery Warren Tackett. Attempting to arrest a man, Tackett’s firearm was wrested away and used against him. Tackett was 28-years-old at the time of his slaying. The BPD tuned in to the NLEOM virtual candlelight vigil to pay homage to his name when read aloud.
Synonymously, the Tarpon Springs Police Department in Tarpon Springs, Fla., honored four of its slain comrades virtually via a live-airing of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial candlight vigil on May 15, 2013.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office held its annual ceremony at its Law Enforcement Memorial site on the grounds of the Historic Courthouse in Dade City, Fla., on May 03, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. Each year the PCSO honors all eight of its county’s slain law enforcers by vigilizing at each of the officers’ gravesites.
Collectively, each of the Tampa Bay-area law enforcement agencies rendered respective honors, commemorations, and recognitions of those law enforcement officers who met the ultimate sacrifice…lost in the line of duty.
As National Police Week draws to a conclusion, we also offer our deepest respect and adoration to those selfless individuals who wore the badge in service so that others may be preserved.
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