Sunday, June 24, 2018
Public safety

2 St. Petersburg police detectives win award for outstanding service

ST. PETERSBURG — Homicide Detective Kenny Miller and CASE Detective Paul "Jacques" LaMonde are this year's winners of the Police Department's top honor, the Ned March/Bud Purdy Award.

Miller, 36, is a 13-year agency veteran who worked in patrol, community, street crimes and burglary units before moving to homicide. Originally from Orlando, he said he has always wanted to be a homicide detective and began building community contacts long before he took his current post.

"You don't want to always have to rely on DNA and prints to solve a case," Miller said.

Miller's supervisor says his "unrelenting investigative techniques rank him among the greatest homicide investigators" in department history, according to a department statement.

Miller's skill in making contacts was credited with solving an October murder inside a convenience store where witnesses were reluctant to speak. Miller used informers and DNA to solve the case.

"You have to rely on the community, too, and they usually will help you solve the homicide," Miller said.

Another case that stands out for Miller is the 2012 Easter morning murder of 24-year-old mother Tamika Mack.

Mack was shot in the head after three men robbed a home where she was staying and found her hiding in a closet. Again using informers and forensic evidence, Miller identified a suspect. "It really felt good to be able to make an arrest in that case," Miller said.

In November, John Curry IV, 24, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in Mack's murder.

Miller said he'll continue his work as a homicide detective as long as his wife, Angela, will let him.

LaMonde's work with the department began nearly 24 years ago. Now 46, he said he was inspired to pursue his career by his older brother, who was once a deputy with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

LaMonde said he misses the nearly 15 years he spent as a member of the SWAT team, often as the first one into a tough situation.

"It was very exciting," LaMonde said. "Lots of adrenaline."

At the same time, he said, the years he spent in community policing were rewarding as well.

"You got to work with all facets of the community," LaMonde said, "from the dirt bag criminals to the great people who pay our salaries."

He now focuses on covert surveillances, undercover operations and arresting wanted felons.

Supervisors say LaMonde is an expert in split-second decisionmaking and surveillance techniques, many of which he teaches to officers in other area agencies.

He was working an investigation in 2009 when he was shot four times by a group of young men who had just robbed a convenience store. He was awarded the department's Purple Heart and Medal of Valor for his actions. Despite the danger, he returned to the job after nine months of rehabilitation. During that time, he said he imagined how many war veterans go back to war with worse injuries.

"I certainly couldn't go out with just a few bullet holes in me," LaMonde said.

LaMonde and his wife, Laurie, have five sons.

The Ned March/Bud Purdy Award was established by March, who joined the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg in 1941 and personally funded the awards for 10 years. The award was later renamed to also honor former St. Petersburg police Chief E. Wilson "Bud" Purdy, who died this month at the age of 94.

Miller and LaMonde were honored at a luncheon Friday sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Comments
Authorities find

Authorities find "inmate" who walked away from Bilirakis event

The 23-year-old man who authorities said walked away from a New Port Richey political event while under supervision of a treatment center on Saturday has been located.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office described Nicholas Moore, 23, as both an "inmate"...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Published: 06/23/18
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Published: 06/22/18
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Published: 06/22/18
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Published: 06/22/18
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Published: 06/22/18
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Published: 06/22/18
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18