ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The killing of law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Dallas has police agencies across the Tampa Bay area reassessing safety measures. In addition, St. Petersburg police officers are taking a special step to show their solidarity with the victims.
“Whenever something like that happens, it definitely sends chill down my spine,” Officer Fred Jackson said.
Officer Jackson is showing his support for law enforcement victims by wearing a black band on his badge. Other officers are wearing a special badge, which has a black band, and red and white stripes.
The David Gross Funeral Home and a local police association bought the badges in 2011.
“It really hurts because you start thinking about, ‘Then, what’s next or who’s next?'” St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said.
The special badges and lapel pins, which are for civilian employees, will remain on until the last officer is buried.
Jackson supports Holloway’s “Park Walk and Talk” initiative to get officers into the communities they serve. He thinks it will prevent distrust and violence.
“If you get out of your car and actually talk to people, it’s a way to build relationships. I run into people all the time who recognize me, and we get a lot of information from ‘Park Walk and Talk,'” Officer Jackson said.
The officer killings are highlighting the need for police be pro-active, law enforcement officials said. “It’s time to for us to open up the communication and let people understand that we’re there to help them and help the community; and we’re not there to hurt them,” Chief Holloway said.
The chief encourages people who have problems with the department to come in and talk about it. “Trying to hurt each other, that’s not the solution,” he said. “The same conversation that some parents are saying that they’re having with their kids, well we’re having that same conversation with our kids, meaning our officers that work for us.”