Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg to unveil monument honoring fallen police officers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — Five years ago, the police chief and mayor stood on a strip of land at Demens Landing and stuck a shovel in the dirt.

They vowed that one day, there would be a permanent monument at the park to honor the city's police officers who died in the line of duty.

There were 12 of them at the time. There are 15 now.

On Saturday, all will be recognized as the public gets its first look at the long-awaited memorial. The police chief and mayor will be there. Gov. Rick Scott has been invited to the ceremony in the downtown park as well.

"I'm excited for this," said Dave DeKay, assistant police chief. "People want to support us, but sometimes they don't know how."

The memorial, DeKay said, gives the community a permanent and public place to reflect.

A fence remains around the monument right now. When it is unveiled, people will see three main components: a 7-foot-tall piece of black granite that has a silhouette of an officer cut out of it; a large aluminum panel with the names of the officers scattered randomly on both sides; and a 25-foot flag pole. There also will be benches and a lighted walkway with pavers people can buy and personalize.

Heroes of the St. Pete Police, a nonprofit formed to help officers and their families in times of need, has talked of doing a memorial for nine years. Although the names of fallen officers hang on a plaque in the police station, the city has not had a public monument.

There was a renewed push for one after the city lost three officers a year ago.

"2011 was a motivating year for the community to make something happen," said architect Andrew Hayes, who joined the Heroes board after the deaths of K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer David Crawford in January and February 2011.

Up to about a year ago, the organization intended to have the memorial be a public arts project. But it decided to change tactics when a couple of things became clear, DeKay said.

In order for it to be a public arts project, DeKay said, the group would have had to raise all the money needed up front. Artists would then be able to bid on the project. Officials were trying to raise about $150,000.

But when board members approached potential donors, many had the same question: What would the monument look like?

"Without something to look at, it's hard to raise money," Hayes said.

So Hayes and his team put some of their own ideas and concepts into a mock-up design that could be used on pamphlets.

"The board fell in love with it," DeKay said. "We thought, why not just go with this?"

With Hayes' donated design and other private contributions, the group was able to move forward and get the memorial built for about $85,000.

As a result, the memorial is already paid for. The nonprofit is donating the monument and the first 10 years of maintenance to the city.

"This is really rewarding," said board member Kyle Nelson, who has spent the past several months tracking down families of the officers. Many of them still live in the Tampa Bay area, but some are flying here from other states. "I think it ought to be a fairly moving and emotional service."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com.

>>if you go

Ceremony

What: Dedication service and unveiling of the city's memorial to honor the 15 officers killed in the line of duty

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Demens Landing

More Information: www.heroesofthestpetepolice.org

St. Petersburg to unveil monument honoring fallen police officers this weekend 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.