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Strategic Operations Division

St. Petersburg Police patch. Loyalty, Integrity, Honor.

The Herbert R. Sullivan
Distinguished Performance Award

August 18, 1980 around 1:00 p.m. Detective Herbert Ray Sullivan parked his unmarked gray Chevy pick-up truck in the parking lot at the Save Inn, 2260 54 Avenue North. Sitting beside him was his partner Detective Harry Herbst. After the vehicle stopped Detective Herbst got out of the vehicle and entered the motel where the drug deal was to take place. Detective Sullivan held the money for the deal. None of the back up units had a visual on Detective Sullivan and no one noticed a broad-shouldered B/M approach the pickup truck and open fire hitting Detective Sullivan multiple times in the chest.

The next day police arrested Sammie Lee Mathis and charged him with the murder. His confederate in the shooting was a W/M by the name of William G. Haake, who fled to Spain but was later extradited. Both men were sentenced to life in prison.


In 1997, the Herbert R. Sullivan Distinguished Performance Award was established in SPPD's Vice and Narcotics Division. It is an annual award bestowed on a member of any rank who demonstrates exemplary performance and leadership. The prestigious award is the first of its kind in the division to honor outstanding performance.

The Herbert R. Sullivan Distinguished Performance Award

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