Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas Park students design license plate to honor fallen officers

PINELLAS PARK — Florida lawmakers decided years ago to put a halt to new specialty license plates — at least until July 2014.

But a group of earnest teenagers wants to persuade the Legislature to break its moratorium a year early.

The teens have created a specialty plate — featuring two intersecting blue lines, a pair of badges and the phrase "A hero remembered never dies" — to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

And they already have two local legislators willing to champion the effort.

"As politicians, we come up with a lot of ideas," Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said Wednesday. "Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that come from everyday folks."

This idea began in a Pinellas County classroom. Students enrolled at Pinellas Park High School's Criminal Justice Academy began working on it two years ago, shortly after the death of three St. Petersburg police officers.

Their teacher, Richard Cross, suggested the students channel their emotions into designing a license plate. Afterward, the kids picked their favorite — and told their teacher they wanted to see it become a reality.

Florida already has more than 100 license plate designs, part of the reason the state instituted a moratorium.

"We don't care what it takes," said 16-year-old junior Lauren Lofton. "It's going to happen."

Lofton, whose father is a detective for the St. Petersburg Police Department, knew Sgt. Tom Baitinger, one of the officers killed in 2011.

"He actually taught me to tie my shoes," she said.

Lofton and the other students said they want proceeds from the plate, which would cost $25, to help present and future law enforcement officers.

Latvala and state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, have filed companion bills (SB 712 and HB 911), which would have 70 percent of the fee go toward training and equipment for officers and the remaining 30 percent go toward education.

Numerous local law enforcement officials and Lorraine Yaslowitz, whose husband Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz was killed, attended a news conference Wednesday.

Yaslowitz said she was impressed by the students' "vigor." So were Latvala and Dudley, who said they will do everything they can to get the bills approved this year.

"This is a worthy tribute and a wonderful idea," Dudley said.

Pinellas Park students design license plate to honor fallen officers 02/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.