St. Pete Mayor Announces Social Service Agency to Respond to Non-Violent Police Calls for Service

July 9, 2020

By: Staff Report

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. – Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chief of Police Anthony Holloway announce significant change in police response for the City of St. Petersburg on Facebook today.

The City of St. Petersburg Police Department will create a new division within the Police Department called the Community Assistance Liaison, to expand our approach to public safety by retaining a social service agency to respond to non-violent calls for service from the public. Beginning October 1, 2020, instead of sending a police officer, a CAL team member will respond to the following issues:

-Disorderly intoxication
-Drug overdose
-Intoxicated person
-Mental health crisis
-Suicide crisis
-Mental Health Transport
-Disorderly juvenile/truancy
-Disorderly Juvenile at Elementary Schools
-Homeless complaints
-Neighborhood dispute

In 2019, the Police Department responded to approximately 12,700 calls for service on the above issues (out of a total of 259,800 calls for service).

This new division will take over these calls rather than moving forward with a previous commitment to add 25 new officers over the next two years. The Police Department will lose $3,125,000 in federal grant funding awarded to pay for the new officers and $3,800,000 the City had earmarked in matching funds required by the grant. The City will instead use those funds to pay for this new service.

The Police Department will monitor calls related to these issues for one year to determine whether this approach has been successful or whether officers were still required to respond to these issues in addition to the CAL team member

A police officer will always be dispatched to violent or life-threatening situations.

Here are the additional points the Chief made:

-Additional Training

-Increase De-escalation training from the current one time a year , to two times a year formal training and informal training with simulator

-Increase Self-defense tactics training from the current one time a year to two times a year so that officers have more options than reaching for weapons

-Fair & Impartial Policing training for civilian employees of the Police Dept. (sworn officers already receive this training annually)

-Additional training for recruits. Recruits already receive Cultural Competency Training with community members. They will also have to return after a year for additional training on Cultural Competency.

-Add a civilian to our hiring board. The civilian will come from NAACP, Urban League, Faith Leaders and Leadership St. Petersburg.

-Park, Walk, and Talks (when officers park their patrol cars and walk the areas they patrol to get to know the people they serve) will go from 1 hour per week, to 2 hours per week.

Comprehensive review to look for ways to improve:
-Use of Force policy
-How complaints are processed
-Who are we arresting and why?
-Monitor calls that are based on race only

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