Officer Crystal Langston has been named Gulfport’s police officer of the year, an honor largely in part to her charitable contributions to the community.
“It feels good to be recognized,” Langston said. “The majority of the officers I know don’t do this job to get an award … but it feels good when you do your job and people recognize the job that you do and appreciate it.”
A Tampa native, Langston comes to the Gulfport Police Department after spending some time at the Suffolk, Virginia Police Department. She has been a police officer for over eight years and has been with the Gulfport Police Department for over three years. She is currently the school resource officer at Boca Ciega High School.
Langston credits both her mother and father for inspiring her to become a police officer.
“Both my parents greatly influenced me,” Langston said, whose mother was a Tampa police officer. “My dad always wanted to be a police officer. He would always watch cop shows and listen to the police scanner and got me a little bit interested.”
Langston says once she learned the role of a police officer, she became interested in the aspect of helping people.
“My goal is just to help people,” Langston said. “And I try to use my role as a police officer to do those different things.”
Langston has been praised for helping others, most notably for running a food drive for the Gulfport Senior Center by collecting leftover foods from the Boca Ciega High School cafeteria.
“I saw that there was a lot of food being wasted every day,” Langston said. “They collect whatever items the kids don’t use like milk and fruit and toss it. So I spoke with the senior center and asked if they would be able to use any of these items and they said yes. So I got help from associates at the school to collect the items for me and I would drive it up to the senior center.”
Being a high school resource officer has unique challenges. A big part of Langston’s job is listening to the students and helping them with life issues.
“ mostly emotional problems, like dealing with drama of relationships and Facebook issues and disputes regarding that,” Langston said.
But sometimes, the problems are more than teenaged drama, like when Langston helped a student obtain a bike so he could get to school on time.
“I would see him at school and he would come late often so I started talking with him to encourage him to come to school on time,” Langston said. “And one day he opened up to me and let me know that he was homeless. His family was living from hotel room to hotel room, and there was no school bus route that would go out and get him, so he had to take the city bus to school.”
Langston asked him if a bicycle would help to get him to school, and the easy answer to that was yes. Langston went right to Shirley DiBucci of the Gulfport Police Department record’s department for the solution.
“I spoke with Shirley,” said Langston. “She takes old bikes and fixes them up and donates them. I asked if she could donate a bike and I gave it to him.”
“These are just a few of the examples of how committed she is to our mission of community policing,” Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent said at the most recent city council meeting. “She takes care of problems when there is a problem, no matter what it takes.”
Langston was recently issued a medal at the annual police award ceremony.
“I work hard and I enjoy working,” Langston said. “I enjoy trying to help people.”