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St. Petersburg police will commemorate one-year anniversary of officers' deaths

ST. PETERSBURG — Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were killed in the line of duty Jan. 24, 2011. The St. Petersburg Police Department will commemorate the one-year anniversary of their deaths early today.

The ceremony will be held in the breezeway of police headquarters at 1300 First Ave. N. During the ceremony, First Avenue N will be blocked at 13th Street for about 15 minutes.

Then at 7 a.m., the honor guard will lay a memorial wreath next to framed photos of the two officers. Mayor Bill Foster and police Chief Chuck Harmon will speak at 7:15 a.m.

Then at 7:29 a.m. — the exact time a year ago when officers first reported shots being fired at the scene — a St. Petersburg dispatcher will ask for a "moment of silence" on the police radio.

The American flag is at half-staff today.

A similar ceremony will be held on Feb. 21. That is the one-year anniversary of the death of Officer David Crawford, who was also shot and killed while on the job. Until last year, St. Petersburg had not lost an officer in the line of duty since 1980.

In May a contingent of police officers, civilians and the families of the fallen officers will attend memorial ceremonies in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

The officers' names will be added to the Fraternal Order of Police Florida Law Enforcement Memorial at a May 7 ceremony in Tallahassee. A St. Petersburg contingent will also travel to Washington to see the names inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall on May 15.