Gov. Rick Scott sets 'First Responder Appreciation Week'

Published Dec. 31, 2014

Days after a Tarpon Springs police officer was killed in the line of duty, Gov. Rick Scott declared the first full week of January "Florida First Responder Appreciation Week."

Scott made the announcement Tuesday in a letter to state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

He enlisted Stewart's help, too.

"Throughout the week, I invite you to join me in encouraging Florida's superintendents, community partners, parents, and students to take time out of their day to show first responders and their families how much we value their service to our cities, counties, and state," he wrote.

Scott hopes schoolchildren will write thank-you letters to police officers, he said.

Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek was killed in a Dec. 21 gun battle with an ex-convict. His funeral was held Saturday.

The shooting occurred amid a national dialogue on the use of police force, sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Brown was shot and killed by police in Missouri. Garner died in police custody in New York.

The deaths prompted protests across the country. One man who had posted antipolice messages on social media ambushed two New York City police officers in their patrol car on Dec. 20, killing them both before taking his own life.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has shouldered criticism from police who say he has not done enough to support law enforcement officers.