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He's got the nickname -- now the honor

A deputy earns the nickname "Three Fingers Brown'' for collaring a suspect. Now he's called "Top Cop.''

By SHERYL KAY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


Look at Deputy Gordon Brown's hands, but it won't explain why he is being called "Three Fingers Brown" these days. Brown has all his digits.

The Lutz Community Resource Officer picked up the nickname last month for his role in the capture of a bank robbery suspect. The arrest also earned him another title: Officer of the Month.

Brown joined several other Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies April 19 as they searched woods on Florida Avenue for bank robbery suspects.

"It was thick, almost like a rain forest," Brown said. "I was searching an area that ran just over this culvert, when I saw three fingers sticking out -- just three fingers."

One suspect was hiding, trying to push himself further back into the culvert.

The eagle-eyed Brown called for backup and made the arrest.

"Since then, the major dubbed me Three-Fingers Brown," he said. "Every time I walk in everyone holds up three fingers."

Brown got even more attention and another nickname Thursday. The 15-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office was dubbed top cop at a North Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Larry Siegel, executive director of the chamber, said the monthly honor is a way for the community to show its gratitude.

"Sometimes law enforcement officers don't get the recognition they deserve," Siegel said. "We are honored that they are out here protecting the community, being a part of the north Tampa community."

Department heads in the Sheriff's Office and the Tampa Police Department select candidates for the honors. According to his boss, Maj. Al Perotti Jr., Brown was selected because of his uncompromising investigative technique at the culvert.

"Brown was not dispatched," Perotti said. "He was working his assignment and monitoring the radio, became aware of a pursuit and got involved, . . . which ultimately led him to apprehending one of the suspects."

Perotti said the action was typical of Brown's dedication.

"It says a great deal about his commitment to the office he holds," Perotti said. "Aggressive patroling means you don't wait for it to come to you, and that's the philosophy Gordon and the other deputies adhere to."

For Brown, the award, which includes a certificate and a $50 savings bond, is most humbling.

"I think it's great, but it's very undeserved," he said. "In law enforcement. it's a team effort. If you don't have the other deputies setting up the perimeter and doing their jobs, then you won't catch the bad guy.

"Everyone who was there is deserving," he added. "I just happened to be the one at the right place at the right time."

So Gordon Brown has become Three-Finger Brown, and that's okay with him.

"I've been called a lot worse."

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