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Private Security Officer Receives First Fallen Hero Award

 

A significant milestone in the effort to cultivate a fully synergistic relationship between private security and public law enforcement occurred on July 11, 2012 at the Florida Police Chiefs Associations 60th annual Summer Training Conference and Exposition held at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Critical Intervention Services Protection Officer Mathew Little, who was killed in the line of duty on May 16, 2011, was honored with the Fallen Hero Award by FPCA President Chief Paul Sireci. This event set new precedent as it marks the first instance of a private sector officer to receive this important honor. Until now, the Fallen Hero Award has only been bestowed on law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. The award was given as part of the FPCAs Private Security Partnership Committee Awards which were established in 2011 as a means for the FPCA and the Private Security Partnership Committee to annually recognize public-private partnerships.

The inclusion of a fallen private security officer as a recipient of this high honor is representative of the strides which the private and public sectors have made over the years to overcome their conflicts and collaborate for the benefit of the common goal of public safety. Gone are the days of contention arising from separate missions and welcomed still more is the exchange of mere co-existence for an emerging collaborative relationship which will only serve the best interests of people and public safety. According to the FPCA, to be considered for the Fallen Hero Award the honored security officer must have died in the line of duty while performing authorized security functions for his employer or employer's client. When he lost his life to a spiteful bullet, Officer Little was indeed doing just that; patrolling a troubled community in St. Petersburg and protecting its residents.


Attending the presentation ceremony were an estimated thirty Chiefs of Police from around the state. Chief Paul Sireci presented the Fallen Hero Award to Officer Little's family and offered praise to Mat and the private security industry. "While we have two missions, we share one common goal of public safety" he said. He also respectfully acknowledged that law enforcement is outnumbered by those in the private protection industry by 3 to 1, a truth that legitimizes the crucial role the private sector plays in safeguarding not only the public, but critical infrastructures that we rely upon for our well-being. The audience responded with a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment as the family stood to accept the award and a commemorative plaque and deliver a note of appreciation and love for Mat. Afterward, attendants adjourned to a beachfront deck and enjoyed food and spirits and toasted Mat, raising their glasses against the backdrop of a captivating Florida sunset.

It is a harsh reality; the sacrifices that public safety professionals have made and the dangers they face. Both private and public officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the people of this great state. Honoring Mat's contribution to that utmost goal is a tribute by law enforcement to all members of the private security industry. With continued efforts, such as this event, we are certain to wholly bridge the gap, growing the private-public relationship from co-existence to cooperation to partnership.

 

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