Editorial: Honor sacrifice of two St. Petersburg police officers

January 25th, 2011 by Staff

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www.tampabay.com — St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Tom Baitinger rose through the ranks and previously served as an officer and a detective. Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz loved being a member of the canine unit. Both were well-respected veterans in a department that had not lost a member in the line of duty in three decades. They were selflessly performing their jobs Monday when they were shot and killed at a house where police tried to serve a warrant. Their deaths shocked a city unaccustomed to such violence, and they remind us all of the danger police officers face every day.

Even the most routine police assignments carry considerable risk. A St. Petersburg police officer, a member of the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office and a U.S. marshal carried an arrest warrant for Hydra Lacy Jr. Monday morning and did not expect him to be at the house on 28th Avenue S. Yaslowitz, who had been headed home and volunteered to assist, was shot and fatally wounded inside the attic. The marshal was wounded, and Baitinger was shot and fatally wounded inside the house. There were heroic rescue efforts by their fellow officers. Lacy, who had a lengthy arrest record and was wanted on aggravated battery charges, was found dead in the house hours later.

Mayor Bill Foster and police Chief Chuck Harmon, who held a badge and a wedding ring from the slain officers in his hands at a news conference, performed well under the most difficult circumstances. They kept the community reasonably informed Monday morning even as the standoff continued to develop. Neighborhood residents were promptly evacuated, a nearby school was secured and no one else was hurt despite spurts of rapid gunfire. The methodical approach after the shootout was appropriate. The attention to detail, the professionalism and human decency by the mayor and the police chief were reassuring to the entire city.

“I considered them friends, and I’m going to miss them,” said Harmon before turning to the heartache felt by his officers and their commitment to keeping St. Petersburg safe. “Although this is the worst day you could imagine, they are still out there doing their job, protecting their community.”

There are no routine police functions that are immune to violence. As St. Petersburg lost two police officers Monday, services were held in Miami for two Miami-Dade officers who were killed last week while serving an arrest warrant. Last June, two Tampa police officers were shot and killed at a traffic stop. While the crime rate nationally and statewide is down, violence can erupt without warning as police officers perform their selfless duties. It is particularly jarring in St. Petersburg, where a police officer had not died in the line of duty since 1980.

The entire Tampa Bay region will respond with support and tributes for the families of the officers who gave their lives Monday to protect the rest of us. There will be time to contemplate why Lacy had been at large and whether police training and procedures can be improved. This morning, remember the heroic efforts of St. Petersburg police Officers Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz. Let us honor their sacrifice.

21 Responses

  1. Rick

    Hi Bubba & Crew,
    Just wanted to say that this tribute is very nicely done. You Guys did an outstanding job yesterday reporting this horrific ordeal.
    Thanks a bunch for what you and your crew does for this community.
    Patriotic Cycles Inc

  2. Mike

    Bubba & Crew,

    I just want to thank you guys for what you do for us fellow LEO and for our fallen brothers that we miss dearly. These two guys were not only friends but brothers in arms. These two will be dearly missed. I hearts and prayers go out to the wives and their families.


  3. Allen

    Great job as always guys!..we are lucky to have you on the air. BIG THANKS to Howard for bringing you back to life…damn shame SiriusXM doesnt realize what they’ve lost…RADIOIO here we come!!

  4. Tara McMahan


    Thank you for everything you & your Crew does. Will these 2 families be included in Whit Ride? And what can we for the other officers that were slain during that 24 hr period? You posted a link yesterday about 8 other LEO’s that lost their lives… What’s being done to help them?

  5. Jessee

    Thank you Bubba and crew. Wonderful tribute!

  6. brian

    Miss you in Miami. Have a Bro in the SPPD. This is hopefully not a growing trend. Thanks for what you do for fallen officers.

  7. Mariesa Stock

    I happened to catch the middle of this tribute on the way to class today…and was a crying mess. My husband is a police officer, and the first LEO death in the line of duty this year happened 30 miles from us~ way too close to home.

    Thank you so much for putting this together, and I am now a huge fan of you guys from hearing what you do for/in honor of police officers. You are awesome, and I’ll be sharing this all across Facebook.

  8. Phil Thompson

    Gave me chills. Outstanding!

  9. Alicia

    I am a civilian member of law enforcement and I love this tribute. You did a great job. My hearts and prayers go out to the family.

  10. Sean Norton


    Manson manages to bring it home once again! I consider my self to be a man’s man but this song as all of Manson’s songs im left crying. Id love to say thanks but im just sorry this songs ever have to be made. You guys are doing GREAT. Keep up the good work.


  11. Tommy Craft

    I have to say thank you for such a great tribute. I am not a listener of the show but was channel surfing this morning. You were talking about this tribute, so I was compelled to hear what you had to say. People can say what they want about you all but job well done on this one. As a former LEO, I can say we appreciate you as much as you appreciate us. Thank you, My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families.

  12. Starr Kendall

    Hey Bubba,
    Just wondering if you heard that those nuts over at Westboro Baptist Church are planning to come down here and protest the funerals of these two brave men. I missed the show this morning- but if you haven’t heard I urge yo to call on the Bubba Army to get involved and silently block this morons from view out of respect to the grieving family and friends of these Police Officers.

  13. JJ

    Linkin park is amazing. Iridescent would’ve been a good choice too.

  14. Rick

    The SunCoast PBA has a charity fund set up in their names, and memorial t-shirts are being printed as we speak.

  15. AnthonyC

    Manson, youre the shit! Thanks for your inspiring work… we love you out here in Socal

    Nice rangy change-up on the music…

    Keep doin what youre doin!

  16. Michael Conard

    Very nice tribute guys

  17. mark clark

    i cried alot today watching the memorial to these two heros and as i listen to mansons song and tim mcgraws please remember me i just think of these two fallen heros and there families and i just break down and cry. the city of st pete lost two great honorable men and we will never forget them.

  18. Luke Sintel

    Bubba..you have such a great team working with you. And to have someone as talented as Manson doing your songs..he put his heart of hearts into this one, not that he needed anymore help for this came deeply from the hurt that we are all feeling for two super men of the LEO’s brotherhood.
    Bless you for all you and the guy’s do for these law enforcement families. Forget the one’s that try to imitate and ride your coat tails for they are nothing more than poser wanna-be’s

  19. Kenny Tuman

    Bubba you guys did a great job with the tribute.I live in Georgia now and always listened to you when i lived in Bradenton.This really hits close because my wife is still a Deputy there.She has 26yrs on the job. Keep it up

  20. Laura Turner

    Bubba- Just wanted to say thanks for all you do for Law Enforcement Officers and the ones that have been taken from us for senseless reasons. My brother is a police officer and he sacrifices his life each and everyday when he puts on that uniform and gets in his car and sets out to make the world a safer and better place. I just wish that their were more people/organizations that took the time to recgonize them the way that you do!! Thanks again for all you do to support their cause! Much appreciation from our family in Waycross,GA!!

  21. Chris

    Bubba, Manson and crew,
    Well done, I have been a police officer for over 26 years in Ontario, Canada and when we lose an officer anywhere we all feel the pain.

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