Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

East Gateway residents ask Clearwater City Council not to cut community policing team

CLEARWATER — They came to City Hall to talk about streetwalkers, drug houses, break-ins, drunks and vagrants.

They were describing the blighted East Gateway area where they live. The main approach to downtown Clearwater has long been crime-ridden and dilapidated. Ten people beseeched the City Council on Thursday night to keep the community policing team that patrols the 175-acre area.

Officials heard them out but could make no promises. Clearwater will be making deep budget cuts soon, and it appears that no part of the city's work force will go untouched, including the Police Department.

"We really can't ignore any department, given the level of cuts we're talking about," said City Council member Paul Gibson. "We're talking many millions of dollars."

Community policing teams who get around on bicycles in the East Gateway and Clearwater Beach areas might be scaled back or eliminated entirely to save money.

A consultant who was hired to assess Clearwater's police force recommended that the city phase out a four-officer BeachWalk team, saving nearly $312,000 in salaries and benefits, and cut the number of East Gateway community officers from seven to four, saving $220,000.

The officers' jobs would be cut through attrition, not layoffs. The consultant said the community teams are expendable because those areas can be policed by patrol officers assigned to those districts.

But East Gateway residents take issue with that. They say the community officers have made a noticeable difference.

"I know you all have a tough decision to make," resident Ron Daniels told the council, "but I think it would be a terrible thing to go backwards now."

Shelley Kuroghlian, a member of the grass roots East Gateway Coalition, described how the community officers have reached out to all kinds of residents, going door-to-door to sign people up for a neighborhood watch.

Coalition member Joanna Siskin warned that the area's crime problems could spill into other parts of the city: "What happens in the Gateway doesn't stay in the Gateway, and it impacts all the neighborhoods that border it."

However, the city expects to have to cut $7 million to $13 million from its budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

And at the same City Council meeting Thursday night, several North Greenwood residents pleaded with the council not to close the North Greenwood Library.

Mayor Frank Hibbard and other council members said they want to review City Manager Bill Horne's proposed budget next month before they begin making decisions. They intend to spread the cuts around.

"Throughout this process, I am going to make sure that the pain is as equitable as we possibly can make it throughout the city," Hibbard said. "We're going to get to a point where we're talking rec centers vs. a police officer, or library hours vs. rescue units for the Fire Department. Those are the decisions that we're going to be having."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

East Gateway residents ask Clearwater City Council not to cut community policing team 05/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018


    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.

    In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - …

  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen


    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  5. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.