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Difference Maker: Havana Police Officer Israel Baity

The Havana Police Department works tirelessly to keep our small community safe. Law enforement has always been a difficult job. Officers put their lives on the line every day when they go to work. But in today’s troubled world, fulfilling the duties of police officer is especially challenging.

Some make it look easy, however, performing their duties bravely and ethically day in and day out, never boasting or seeking recognition for its own sake. On the job for just two years, Israel Baity is a relative newcomer to the local force, but he is already proving his worth. The Havana Town Council and City of Tallahassee recently commended the young lawman for saving a fellow officer from choking at a training event.

Baity is quiet and modest, but he’s clearly a man who loves his job.

“The job is never monotonous,” he says. “I love the challenge of the unknown when I come to work. You don’t know if it will be a quiet paperwork kind of day or if you will be embroiled in a big scene. I enjoy that uncertainty. I also like meeting people as I do every day on my job.”

Tell me about the commendation you received.
It was a lifesaving award. It all happened so quickly when the incident occurred.. I was just attending a meeting at the Police Academy and we were all sitting at a table eating. The gentleman next to me began choking a little and I noticed his face was turning red. He put his hands up to his throat which is the universal sign for choking. I jumped up and applied the Heimlich maneuver or the upward thrust as it is now known. Luckily, the choking morsel was dislodged and he and his color returned to normal. My reaction was simply a part of our police training.

How did being recognized like that make you feel?
I had mixed feelings. It was nice to receive an award, but I felt like I was just doing my job.

What made you want to be a police officer?
It was always what I wanted to do in life. Growing up, I was always watching the news and seeing the role police played when there was trouble. I wanted to be like them. I took part in the Police Cadet program (police version of ROTC) which only furthered my interest.

What training did you receive?
Seven years in the Police Cadet Program. I then attended and graduated from the Police Academy at Pat Thomas.

In this day and age when there is so much violence against law enforcement officers, how do you manage the stress?
That’s a good question. I just know that someone has to do the job, and I work with good people who are experienced, strong and smart. I know that they always have my back.

How about your family? Does your career choice upset them?
My family has never been anything but supportive of me and my career choice.

The Havana Police Department participates in several charitable events. Can you tell me about them?
I probably won’t hit them all but the Havana Police Department is all about helping out the community. We participate in Toys for Tots. We go out and speak to students at schools and participate in career days. We help the Kiwanis Club in their events – Kiwanis camp, Christmas baskets, turkey or ham distributions etc. We volunteer to help with the Boy Scouts. We also do random acts of kindness throughout the year.

What can the average citizen do to help the police?
Just as we try to reach out to the community, we’d like the community to reach out to us. Be more involved. Get to know us. Together we can be more effective in having a pleasant, safe community.

By Judy Conlin

Havana Police Officer Israel Baity displays his “Life Saving Award” plaque, presented to him by the Havana Police Department and town council. Photo by Randall Lieberman
The Havana Town Council presents local police officer Israel Baity with a plaque commending him for his heroism in saving a fellow officer from choking. Photo by Randall Lieberman
Photo by Randall Lieberman
Havana Mayor Pro Tem Decorkus Allen chats with Havana Police Officer Israel Baity following a presentation at the Aug. 7 Havana Town Council meeting. Photo by Randall Lieberman