Largo honors its law enforcement

The Largo Police Department honored its 2019 and 2020 officers and supervisors of the year on May 4. They are, from left, Officer Christopher Keeler, Sgt. Kreig Lake, Sgt. Nicholas Cusumano, and Officer Joel Quattlebaum.

LARGO — The city of Largo is feeling blue and it wants its residents to as well. 

May 9-15 is National Police Week, so the city is encouraging the community to recognize law enforcement members for their service and sacrifice. 

The Largo Police Department kicked off its own internal salute May 4 when it announced its 2019 and 2020 officers and supervisors of the year.

Deputy Chief Mike Loux detailed the accomplishments of the four members, two of which had to wait a year because of the pandemic, during a City Commission meeting.

2019 Officer of the Year: Christopher Keeler

Keeler, who is now a sergeant, was recognized for his efforts as a school resource officer at Largo High School.

“His participation in the Officer Friendly program and as an agency instructor have been far-reaching and profound,” said Loux, referring to the program where officers read to children at city schools.

When students have been in need, Loux said Keeler has stepped up.

For example, when a student from a dysfunctional or low-income home wore the same clothes for consecutive days, Keeler donated his personal clothing to him.

Or when a teen girl learned she was pregnant, he bought her a crib and anonymously gave it to her, “so she had one less thing to worry about,” Loux said.

He also played the role of Santa at schools and delivered them toys he purchased.

2019 Supervisor of the Year: Sgt. Nicholas Cusumano

Loux said Cusumano has taken on many roles, including Police Benevolent Association representative, and is the sergeant in charge of the department’s Problem Oriented Policing unit.

“His dedication and desire to see the team succeed has resonated through every shift and assignment he has commanded,” Loux said.

2020 Officer of the Year: Joel Quattlebaum 

As senior services officer, Loux said Quattlebaum is constantly busy hosting and attending education meetings, advisory boards, partnering with area professionals and responding to calls for service. 

He receives daily referrals for vulnerable seniors and is a liaison for the services and resources they require. 

“In the last calendar year, Officer Quattlebaum received and followed up on 333 referrals, responded ot or generated 571 calls for service and generated 87 reports,” Loux said.

He also took the lead to lobby the County Commission to implement the Yellow Dot program, which is a sticker a motorist displays on the vehicle’s window that alerts first responders to health care information located in the glove compartment.

“With Officer Quattlebaum’s tenacity and as an advocate for the senior community he successfully brought this safety measure program to fruition in Pinellas County,” Loux said.

He also spearheaded a wellness grant and helped with several fundraising efforts.

“His dedication to the seniors in our community make a huge impact not only on the daily lives of our most vulnerable residents, but also on our diminishing calls for service relating to seniors for our patrol officers,” Loux said.

2020 Supervisor of the Year: Sgt. Kreig Lake 

Lake has only been a patrol sergeant for a short time but has already made an impact, Loux said.

“Several of the officers on the midnight shift all agree that Sgt. Lake has a high level of integrity and devotion to his role as a supervisor and to the public safety in general.”

He readily teaches acquired skills to officers and volunteered to be the new K-9 unit supervisor. 

“Sgt. Lake has been involved in several improvements to K-9 policies and procedures, he’s actively working to make further improvements to the K-9 unit and equipment upgrades, prioritizing necessary training, revamping deployment documentation, etc.,” Loux said.

Lake is also currently working on establishing a K-9 training compound for the department, which it has never had.

Paint the Town Blue

The city, which is joining the FBI Tampa Citizens Academy Alumni Association and other nearby communities for the inaugural Paint the Town Blue event, is also asking the community to get involved in honoring law enforcement members.

It is encouraging citizens to wear blue attire, set up blue lighting or create signs and messages at their place of business.  

Residents and businesses are encouraged to share their photos and messages on social media by tagging @LargoPoliceDepartment and @CityofLargo on Facebook or @LargoPD on Twitter, and using the #GoBlueLargo hashtag. Community members can also visit Largo.com/WOW to share a special virtual note of appreciation. 

Patrons are asked to not deliver any food items to Largo Police that are not individually wrapped. Thank you cards and notes may be mailed to Largo Police Department, 201 Highland Ave., Largo, FL 33770.