Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Pete City Council to grill police chief



ST. PETERSBURG -- Police Chief Charles “Chuck” Harmon compared his last appearance before the City Council to a day in court.
But some council members said that was just a warmup to the firing squad he’ll face Thursday during a workshop on public safety.
The council submitted 25 questions and comments about the Police Department’s procedures to Harmon on Monday so that he can prepare responses for Thursday’s discussion.
Read past the jump to see what public safety issues are on each council member's mind.
(Also, check out which council members didn't bother to send in their responses and who weren't exactly sticklers with grammar and spelling.)

Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer


Here are the council member's statements as they wrote them. Most of these letters were handwritten.

Council member Wengay Newton asked:
1. What are you doing about all the unsolved Murders?
2. What are you doing about all the Guns on the streets?
3. What are you doing about all the out in the open Drug Dealing in Midtown and Childspark Areas?
4. What are you doing about all of the Robbery and Shootings?
5. What is your Run-A-Way Program?

Council member Bill Dudley asked:
1. What strategy(s) are you using to make our community safer?
2. How many uniformed police do we have NOW (not in the future)-- How many per shift?
3. How does overtime work? Specifically -- who, how much, & funding source?
4. There is a perception that NOT all deployments are made public -- (Baywalk problems, post activity incidents, do we have adequete(sp) personnel to cover activities or are we pulling officers from other areas to cover?

Council member Jim Kennedy asked:
Were the two officers injured in recent incidents wearing vests? If not, why?
What is the policy/procedure regarding vests? What special training does police officers receive?
What measures are in place to reduce the crime on the Pinellas Trail? Should we install call boxes?
what is the City's strategy regarding hot spots, gun fire locations, and noise enforcement?

Council member Karl Nurse asked:
1. Police department across the country have used "comstat" and hotspots as a mean of precisely identifying the sources of crime and developed measurable, fast means to drive the crime out of those locations. We have many locations that have been hotspots for years. Do we have a strategy to combat hotspots and who is held accountable?
2. Do the detectives, narcotics, street crimes and undercover units report to the Major responsible for each division of town?
3. Would it be faster to have the 911 calls dispatched directly from the county 911 center? What does it cost for us to maintain a separate dispatch center?
4. What do we need to move our department from a defense attitude to an attitude of taking the fight to the criminals? I ask this because clearly the criminals are not afraid of the police.
5. Why was the New York police department able to radically cut the crime rate in a few years so it is now lower than ours?
6. Do we have a system to check for DNA evidence and what is the criteria?*
7. Are you open to training the sanitation department to serving as additional eyes on the street?**

Council Chairman Jeff Danner asked:
Is the authorized strength number set several years ago still the right number? Population is younger more activity downtown/ 4th street/ Grand Central
What is the plan to address increased crime that will likely come with a poor economy?
Can you give examples of how the new community policing is better than old method (other than time calls are returned)

Council member Jamie Bennett asked:
Will we actively persue adding new officers through a possible new COPS program in the Fed stimulus program
If so, will we entertain fully reaching the 540 full staffing number set years ago.

Council members Herb Polson and Leslie Curran did not submit questions or comments.


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:44am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours