Largo Police receive lifesaving gift, prestigious pat on the back

Attorney General Ashley Moody presents Officer Jonathan DePierre, center, with the Back the Blue Award on April 26 at the Largo Police Department headquarters. Shown at right is Chief Jeff Undestad. DePierre was honored for saving a woman from drowning in January.

LARGO — A $20,000 donation and a prestigious pat on the back made this past week a good one for the Largo Police Department.

On April 25, the medical staff at Largo Medical Center presented the department with a check to help 40 officers suit up with special protective armor called rifle plates.

“This donation allows us to outfit these patrol officers with an active shooter kit,” said Officer Brian Livernois in a press release. “The kit includes a rifle plate carrier, an armor rifle plate, a triple magazine pouch and a trauma kit.”

Livernois, who made the request, said the kits are used when officers respond to an active-shooter call or any call with a threat of violence with a weapon. The actual rifle plate is light in weight and designed to defeat powerful rifle rounds.

“The members of our medical staff see firsthand what weapons do to people,” said Dr. Paul Steele of Largo Medical Center. “And since we have the capability to assist our community in different ways, why wouldn’t we want to provide this type of additional safety for our local officers giving them more confidence when entering into any violent situation, helping save their lives in the process?”

Backing the Blue

On April 26, Officer Jonathan DePierre was honored when Attorney General Ashley Moody stopped by the department to present him with a Back the Blue Award for his efforts during a water rescue earlier this year.

“Officer DePierre is another prime example of a courageous law enforcement officer who selflessly serves his community,” Moody said in a press release. “His heroic actions during a time-pressing and critical situation are exceptional, and thanks to his passion for helping others, this woman left the scene of the accident with only minor injuries.”

On Jan. 5, DePierre arrived at the lake at Palms of Largo on East Bay Drive where a 73-year-old woman submerged her car into a pond.

DePierre entered the water, which was about 5-feet deep, and helped to hold driver’s head above water until he was able to free the woman’s legs that were trapped under the steering wheel. Several good Samaritans also jumped into the water to help.

“Officer DePierre’s service to our city is exemplary and this incident is just one example,” Chief Jeff Undestad said. “We are extremely proud to have him on our team.”

DePierre has served in the department for three years and is assigned to the Problem Oriented Policing Unit. Prior to his career in law enforcement, he served in the Army.

Moody’s Back the Blue campaign highlights law enforcement officers, citizens and organizations taking extraordinary steps to forge positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.