Elks Club Honors First Responders

The St. Petersburg Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 1224 honored Gulfport’s 2017 Police Officer of the year and other area first responders during their annual Law & Order Night on Saturday, February 24. Pictured from left are Gulfport Sergeant Robert Burkhart, 2017 Gulfport Police Officer of the Year Jessie Kellington, Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent, and Elks Lodge No. 1224 Exalted Ruler Bonnie Barnes.

The St. Petersburg Elks Lodge No. 1224 honored Gulfport’s 2017 Police Officer of the year and other area first responders during their annual Law & Order Night on Saturday, February 24.

The event has been honoring top area law enforcement officers and firefighters along with a state attorney for at least 35 years, said Rudy Masi Sr., event chairperson.

“We want to honor those who serve us and protect us,” said Tom Shriver Jr., the Elks District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for the Florida West Central District. “It’s the least we can do for them.”
In November 2017, Masi received a lifetime achievement award for his volunteerism from President Donald Trump in the White House.

“I’m very proud of my award pin. I’m wearing it,” said Masi. “But, to me, tonight’s awards to people who put their lives on the line are more rewarding.”

From the Gulfport Police Department, Officer Jessie Kellington was nominated as Officer of the Year by Sergeant Robert Burkhart, his supervisor.

K-9 Officer Todd Hancock works with K-9 Maverick as part of a training exercise that builds up the dog’s drive. Hancock is wearing a bite sleeve with padding on his right arm. The demonstration from the St. Petersburg Police Department was part of the recent annual Elks Club local Law & Order Night dinner and awards event that has been honoring top area law enforcement officers and firefighters along with a state attorney for at least 35 years.

Kellington joined the force 14 years ago and in 2013 was given the opportunity to work with an area undercover narcotics squad, which was an assignment he loved, according to a police department press release. In 2017, due to a staffing shortage in Gulfport, Police Chief Robert Vincent returned him to patrol duties.

The reassignment caused a significant change in Kellington’s personal schedule. In addition, the squad he returned to had an acting supervisor who was a less experienced officer. Before Kellington was assigned to be undercover, he was the squad’s supervisor.

Kellington’s work ethic meant he “stepped up and helped to train the new officers that had been hired to fill vacancies,” said Vincent. “His performance as an instructor, training officer, and just as an all-around example to others is commendable. Where others might express a negative attitude in his situation, Kellington remained positive and showed skills of a true leader.”

From St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue, Chief Jim Kilpatrick presented Terry Perna with their Firefighter of the Year award.

Other agencies honoring law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and a lawyer at the private club’s dinner and awards ceremony included the State Attorney’s Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue, and the St. Petersburg Police Department.

For entertainment, officers from the St. Petersburg Police K-9 unit provided a demonstration.

St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue’s 2017 Firefighter of the Year award was presented to Terry Perna. Pictured from left, St. Petersburg Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 1224 Exalted Ruler Bonnie Barnes, St. Pete Beach Fire Chief Jim Kilpatrick and Perna.

 

 

 

 

 

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