AME student’s art on patrol with HBPD officer

AME student’s art on patrol with HBPD officer
AME Principal Mike Masiello, Holmes Beach Police School Resource Officer Christine LaBranche, Charlee Maize and Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer admire Charlee’s art that won its way on to the rear window of LaBranche’s patrol vehicle. - Submitted

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Elementary School fifth grader Charlee Maize has her artwork displayed in an unconventional place – in the window of Holmes Beach Police Officer Christine LaBranche’s patrol vehicle.

As the school’s resource officer, LaBranche is a daily presence at AME and a friend of students and staff alike.

LaBranche presented school Principal Mike Masiello with the idea to create a contest for fifth graders to create artwork honoring police officers and their work in the community.

The winner’s artwork would be turned into a decal to be placed on the officer’s patrol vehicle. With Maisello’s support, the contest was held with the theme of “police protecting our community.” After reviewing all of the submitted artwork, HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer chose Maize as the winner.

AME student’s art on patrol with HBPD officer
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer congratulates fifth grader Charlee Maize on her contest-winning artwork, which will spend the rest of the school year on School Resource Officer Christine LaBranche’s patrol vehicle. – Submitted

“The idea was brought to me by Officer LaBranche, and I loved it,” Masiello said. “She said she had seen it somewhere else, and it would be great for community relations and I agreed.”

Tokajer presented Maize with the chief’s challenge coin. Her art will remain displayed on the school resource officer’s police vehicle until after next year’s competition.

“Every student did a great job,” Tokajer said. “I really liked the way Charlee made the “o” in police as a donut, it was a great touch, and we’re happy her work will be seen by many in Holmes Beach. We hope to continue this with the fifth graders every year.”

He said he hopes to make this a yearly tradition honoring the artwork of AME students and to continue the long-time positive relationship between the community and the police department.

AME is one of only a few elementary schools in the county with a full-time police officer stationed on campus. Tokajer says while it is common to have a police presence at high schools, AME is fortunate to have the service of a full-time school resource officer. While he said most elementary and schools do have on-site security, they are generally private, often retired police officers and bonded civilian agents.