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Officers' community ties earn honor

Two win the renamed Ned March/Bud Purdy Award.

Published February 4, 2007


Two St. Petersburg police officers with a long history of outstanding service Friday were named winners of the annual Ned March Award.

Seventeen-year veteran Charles Tatem, one of the original community police officers in 1991, was cited for efficiency, a high level of courtesy and knowledge so extensive that he is constantly in demand among the department's many divisions.

Thirteen-year veteran Matthew McKinney is an undercover officer. Superiors cited him for exemplary work in the street crimes unit and for forging strong ties with the community.

This year, the honor was renamed the Ned March/Bud Purdy Award to recognize longtime Rotary Club member and former St. Petersburg police Chief E. Wilson "Bud" Purdy, a member of the club since 1955. Purdy has chaired the Ned March Awards Committee for many years.

Selection criteria often are applied for an officer's entire career. Supervisors nominate outstanding officers. Top St. Petersburg Police Department leaders make the final selections. E.L. "Ned" March, a Rotary member with an interest in police work, established the award in 1952.

When he was a community police officer, Tatem, 52, helped establish one of the first crime watch programs in his area and was instrumental in coordinating drug enforcement in the Melrose/Mercy neighborhood.

He has been familiar as the upbeat off-duty officer assigned to Tropicana Field for the past five seasons, wrote Jeffrey A. Rink in a nominating memo.

Rink, executive assistant to police Chief Chuck Harmon, wrote that Tatem "has been utilized at one time or another by every area under the Office of the Chief."

McKinney, 39, has been part of street crimes enforcement for the past few years. In 2003, he was chosen as one of three supervisors to form a street crimes unit. During its first year, the unit made more than 1,200 arrests with no complaints of use of force, wrote Sgt. Joseph Dente, who nominated McKinney.

For three months in 2004, McKinney served as the unit's acting lieutenant. During that period, the unit won an Elk's Lodge Law Enforcement Unit of the Year Award.

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 20:31:37]

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