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Memorial for fallen St. Petersburg officer also teaches lesson

ST. PETERSBURG — When Sgt. Karl Lounge used to train rookies, he'd take them to the grave of Detective Herbert R. Sullivan, who was killed in an undercover drug deal in 1980. Lounge wanted to remind the rookies of the dangers of being a police officer.

Now Lounge says there's a new spot to take rookies: the corner of Eighth Street and Second Avenue S. That's where St. Petersburg Officer David S. Crawford was killed Feb. 21, fatally shot by a 16-year-old prowler, police said.

A memorial honoring Crawford was dedicated to him Thursday morning at the southwest corner of the downtown intersection. A flower arrangement and engraving were hung on the light pole there, just 4 feet from where he fell. The memorial is the work of Shirley Bassett, 71. More than three dozen officers attended the brief ceremony, including members of Crawford's squad and police Chief Chuck Harmon.

"It's a place for reflection," said Lounge, who was Crawford's squad leader and spoke at his funeral, "and we can also use it for training and to remind us of the dangers and the need to stay safe in this job."

Crawford is one of three St. Petersburg officers who died on the job in a span of 28 days this year. Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz were killed on Jan. 24.

Bassett, 71, has worked 15 years for AAA Auto Club South, whose building sits on the corner there. Two days after Crawford died, she watched from her office as two officers erected a small, temporary memorial.

That's not going to last long, she said. So she set out to erect a memorial that would. A hanging flower basket was donated by Julian Dias of Nova Florist. A small, engraved sign was donated by Michael Norris of Fast Signs. It repeats the words of the original paper sign left by the officers:

Rest In Peace

Our Fallen Brother

You Have Fallen

But God Has Lifted You Up!

Bassett just wanted to honor Crawford. But if the spot can also be used to educate, the former Iowa high school teacher is fine with that.

"I think it's pretty cool," she said.

Memorial for fallen St. Petersburg officer also teaches lesson 03/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011 11:35pm]
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