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Luncheon honors county’s heroes
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John Morroni
Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni's 18th annual Appreciation Luncheon for emergency personnel is Friday, Jan. 25, at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. The event will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m.

The 2013 luncheon continues Morroni's tradition of honoring the men and women who serve as emergency personnel. Morroni announced that proceeds from this year's luncheon will go to the Police Athletic League.

Public safety personnel and local elected officials are expected to attend the event and the public is invited. Donations are $50 a ticket, which includes the luncheon and a donation to the charity.

For information and to make reservations, call 791-3356. Reservations must be made by Jan. 23.

The dinner began in memory of Belleair Police Officer Jeffery Tackett. The 28 year old died from a gunshot wound on June 13, 1993, when he responded to a call alone.

The loss of the officer deeply affected the entire community, and those who attended the memorial services were struck with the tragedy, including then-state Rep. John Morroni, who pledged to do something to help prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.

Morroni co-sponsored the Tackett Bill with Sen. Dennis Jones in 1995. The state legislation requires two officers be on duty at all times, unless mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies are in place, so that law enforcement officers do not respond to calls alone.

"My pride lies with the men and women who literally put their lives on the line for all of us," said Morroni. "Because of this law, officers are safer because they have backup when they are doing their jobs of keeping us safe."

In 1995, Morroni organized the first Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. As a Pinellas County commissioner, Morroni continues the tradition every year, expanding it to include firefighters and EMS personnel.

Special honorees have included Officer Tackett's family and emergency personnel who helped in the rescue efforts in New York City following the 9/11 attack.

"This is really the only event that recognizes the valuable contributions made by members of the law enforcement, fire and emergency medical communities," said Morroni. "It's an honor to be a part of it."
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