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Gibbs High School Resource Office earns prestigious national recognition

June 7, 2023

SRO Grace Albritton receives Distinguished Service in Community Policing Award

School Resource Officer Grace Albritton never expected to receive national recognition for helping students who are much like she was as a teen.

This week, the St. Petersburg Police officer received the Sixth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing.

Officer Albritton is a School Resource Officer at Gibbs High, where she was once a student. She was recognized for her innovative approach to community policing at the school. 

"For me, it's unreal. It's such a huge honor. This is something that I did not expect any awards or recognition for," Officer Albritton said.

On June 5, she was honored with law enforcement officers from across the nation. Attorney General Merrick Garland personally presented the award to each recipient.

One of Officer Albritton’s notable accomplishments is the creation of the Grab N Go Boutique. She transformed a classroom into a boutique that provides clothing, school supplies and hygiene items for students with limited resources.

The Grab N Go Boutique began several years ago as a table with a handful of new and gently-used items. She remembers that one student who was homeless picked out an item and was so excited. He had never gotten anything new before.

She made up her mind: "We gotta make this bigger."

She knew what it felt like to be a kid without the things she needed. And she remembered what it felt like.

"I was one of those students," she said.

She recalled coming to school without having access to basic things like deodorant.

"I don't want anybody to come to school embarrassed and have their head low," she said.

Donations increased, and resources expanded. She moved the boutique from the table to most of the teacher's lounge. When the items outgrew the lounge, Officer Albritton asked Principal Barry Brown if they could use a whole room.

He said yes. And the boutique continued to grow.

In addition to keeping the school safe, she also helps with several clubs, including the school's Fishing Club, the Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) club, and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

Last year, she was honored locally. Officer Albritton received the Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by the Tampa Bay nonprofit Hands Across the Bay.

Officer Albritton said she didn't seek publicity for the boutique because she did not want children to feel self-conscious. But the attention has had some benefits.

"It was a blessing because more people heard about the store, and more people started volunteering their time," she said.

When she received local recognition, Principal Barry Brown said she really was an “unsung hero” on the campus.

"I think the Grab N Go (boutique) is just one of many phases of her support for our students aside from providing a safe environment for us, " he said.

Check out the tribute by St. Petersburg Police Department when Officer Albritton won the Unsung Hero Award: