Eight months ago, Larry McKinnon traded in his Tampa police badge and gun for a spot as a public information officer.
Instead of late-night crime scenes and chasing bad guys, McKinnon fielded endless calls from reporters. Rather than write traffic tickets, he set up a space for media to park at police headquarters. In lieu of gas station hot dogs and coffee, he tried out panini sandwiches and lattes.
But McKinnon grew restless.
On Dec. 15, he'll swap his desk for a Hillsborough County sheriff's badge and a patrol car.
"Coming in here and sitting behind a desk five days a week was very difficult," McKinnon said. "When I'd go on crime scenes, I'd start itching to go over there and start interviewing witnesses."
McKinnon, a 25-year police veteran, started with the force when he graduated from high school. He was Officer of the Year in 2005.
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Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober and Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi went to Panama City last week after completing a several-month investigation of a Panhandle boot camp.
The prosecutors filed manslaughter charges against seven drill instructors and the camp's nurse, accusing them of killing Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old who collapsed on his first day at the camp.
The teen's death made national headlines, so naturally reporters began calling Ober as soon as he announced the charges.
Ober figured it would be easy to plan a televised news conference in Panama City. He figured wrong.
Ober and Bondi had to drive more than an hour to Tallahassee to find a place capable of handling the large amount of electronic media.
Bondi laughed at the memory.
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The Tampa Police Department's Gladiators beat the Tampa Fire Rescue's Fire Storm in triple overtime Saturday in the annual Badge Bowl.
The score was 13-7, but it wasn't the most important part of the day, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.
The teams battled each other in the football game and raised about $35,000 for Jimmy Reichert, 7, a McDonald Elementary second-grader who is fighting leukemia, along with the Foundation of Courage and the Pediatric Cancer Center.
"Seeing his face made everything worthwhile," Davis said. "They hoisted Jimmy on their shoulders at the end. It didn't matter who won or lost that game, because Jimmy was the winner."
Jimmy loves soccer and math. He wants to be an astronaut. He's been fighting the disease since March 2003.
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