2 St. Petersburg officers killed
Honoring those in green
I was a participant in the anti-drug marches for many years in St. Petersburg. This was a beautiful and effective partnership between citizen volunteers and the police. We kept our focus on one thing: taking back the streets by freeing them from drug dealing and all the violence. I was never scared because we had the St. Petersburg police with us. I learned from this experience that the St. Pete police are some of the bravest, most selfless folks you will ever come across, and they are highly trained and skilled.
Our police put themselves in the path of danger every day so that St. Petersburg residents can be safe. My experience as a marcher deeply etched into my heart the words of one of our chants. So after the tragic shooting of officers Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, it is with a very heavy heart that I feel compelled to "chant" one more time, to all the officers of the St. Petersburg Police Department and to their families so they know just how much they are truly and deeply appreciated by the citizens they serve and protect: "Support your men and women in green, they're the best we've ever seen!"
Edna Whisler, St. Petersburg
2 St. Petersburg officers killed
As a family member of a slain police officer, I grieve for the family, friends and colleagues of Officers Thomas Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz as well as pray for the speedy recovery of the U.S. marshal. Offering our condolences is the least the community can do.
While every officer who takes the oath is aware of the risks the job demands, his loved ones are the ones who suffer the most. They took no such oath, yet their loss is insurmountable. Two women have lost their husbands, and three children have lost their father. Our condolences at this time are trite and inadequate.
I have faith that the St. Petersburg Police Department will adopt the officers' families as their own and care for them. It is the community that needs to realize the depth of sacrifice. I know first hand that the families' grief will haunt them, and their lives are forever altered.
Men and women don't become police officers for the money. It is something much bigger than that. The city of St. Petersburg has lost two of their finest, and it is up to that community to respect that and thank them and their families. They will need your support.
W. Jeff Howell, Clearwater
Thanks for your service
Every time I tell someone that my two sons are serving in the United States Army (one has been deployed twice to Iraq and the other is still in Afghanistan), they always say, "Please thank them for their service."
I am a teacher, and I drive by the St Petersburg police headquarters on First Avenue North every morning on my way to work. I see the officers crossing the street to begin their day.
As our troops protect us overseas, our police officers protect us at home. Each day they risk their lives for all of us. Every time we see a police officer, let each and every one of us remember to go up to them and to say those very few words that mean so very much: "Thank you for your service!"
Jan Kokernot, St. Petersburg
In an instant an explosive flash in an attic changed everything. Two lives were taken and countless other lives will be changed forever. There is an exponentially large, compounding effect to the loss experienced when good people perish from this world. So many people will have to live with an emptiness that will never completely heal.
These incredibly brave men took vows to uphold the laws of our great city while most of us opt to work in the safety of finance, insurance, medicine or whatever. But not these and 500 plus other men and women who say goodbye to their loved ones before each work shift and go out to confront the unforeseeable. They face unimaginable violence with little or no warning. I sincerely hope these men are remembered for years to come for their bravery, commitment to protecting our citizenry and the honor for which they served our great city. May they rest in peace and their loved ones be consoled by the comforting arms of a grieving community and the ever present hands of God.
John Griffin, Clearwater
Guns are the problem
Again, there have been police officers killed. Just last week, there were two officers killed in Miami. This is most tragic, especially after the Tuscon killings, all committed by persons in possession of guns. The only way we can prevent these tragedies is to make it impossible to purchase guns. But the gun lovers will complain, citing the Second Amendment.
It is up to the Legislature to take action to transform Florida into a safe haven for we retirees, so that we can feel safe walking the streets. But I doubt it will take appropriate action.
These two St. Petersburg officers would still be alive today if the killer was not able to obtain a gun.
Morris Grossman, Sun City Center
More gun control
At a time when our city mourns the loss of two of its finest, you have to question the thinking that allows someone to gun down another person. And now the Legislature is primed to allow more gun toting in public.
How many deaths will it take to convince our supposed leaders that more, not less, gun control is necessary? When the National Rifle Association is the most influential group in our state capital, you have to wonder if this is what our founding fathers envisioned when they passed the Second Amendment.
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg
Stop the NRA
With six brave police officers are shot and killed in Florida in less than a year, will someone tell me why there is no outrage at the hijacking of the U.S. Constitution by the National Rifle Association?
Will the news media and those legislators with common sense please explain why our gun laws are so liberal they allow criminals to have more fire power than the police?
The Second Amendment does not give every citizen the right to own a gun. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives us the right to arm a militia.
Martin Daugherty, St. Petersburg