Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

If Pinellas County sheriff took over Clearwater policing, 54 jobs could be cut

Clearwater employs 44 people in its police communications center. Sheriff Jim Coats says that could be reduced. 


Clearwater employs 44 people in its police communications center. Sheriff Jim Coats says that could be reduced. 

CLEARWATER — If Pinellas County's sheriff took over law enforcement in Clearwater, he would eliminate 54 jobs to save money, according to a city analysis.

That's about one of every eight employees in the Clearwater Police Department.

This is how the sheriff is proposing to save the city's taxpayers $10.8 million a year if Clearwater disbands its police force and contracts with the Sheriff's Office instead.

Sheriff Jim Coats pledges to keep the same number of patrol officers and detectives on duty in Clearwater. He's talking about hiring the same ones. So the bulk of the job cuts in the 400-employee Police Department would come from three areas: police supervisors, communications operators and office workers.

Coats would cut jobs he says are duplicated at the Sheriff's Office. Here's how that would play out:

Supervisors: Clearwater currently has 36 sergeants, eight lieutenants, three captains and a police chief to manage the city's nearly 200 officers and detectives. The sheriff would replace them with about 21 sergeants, six lieutenants and a captain.

Communications: Clearwater employs 44 people in its police communications center to take emergency calls and dispatch officers. That's 36 operators, seven supervisors and a manager.

In contrast, Coats would merge this operation into the sheriff's communications center. He estimates the Sheriff's Office would need 20 more operators — not 44 — to handle the extra call volume.

Support staff: Various administrative workers, such as some accountants and records clerks, would be laid off.

What's next

Clearwater City Council members will take up this issue at their work session Monday. They'll hear a report from police Chief Tony Holloway, who has been studying the sheriff's proposal.

"I'll be releasing my findings Monday, and it will be up to the council," said Holloway, whose position would be eliminated by the sheriff's proposal.

Further discussion is expected at the council's public meeting May 20.

Judging from e-mails that council members have been receiving, public opinion in Clearwater is firmly against getting rid of the Police Department.

However, Clearwater is also facing a $7.6 million budget shortfall, and its $37 million police force is the biggest chunk of the city's budget.

The sheriff has been answering numerous questions from Clearwater officials, and his answers are clearing up a few things about how a transition to the Sheriff's Office would work.

For one thing, Coats says that sheriff's deputies assigned to work in Clearwater would work only in Clearwater and would not rotate to other assignments around the county.

"All deputies working in our contract cities are assigned there on a permanent basis," Coats wrote to Clearwater officials.

Also, Coats says he would hire Clearwater officers, and their salaries would be within the pay range for Pinellas sheriff's deputies — $41,000 to $67,000. Currently, Clearwater officers are paid $43,000 to $65,000.

"The specific pay rates will have to be determined once we know which, and how many current Clearwater officers will seek employment with PSCO," the sheriff wrote.

Jon Walser, a Clearwater patrol officer and president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, says officers are still worried about losing their jobs.

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

By the numbers

Law enforcement salaries

Clearwater police officers: $43,000-$65,000.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies: $41,000-$67,000

Clearwater Police Department

Patrol officers: 112

Other officers (K9, traffic, etc.): 39

Detectives: 39

Police supervisors: 49

Non-sworn positions: 140

If Pinellas County sheriff took over Clearwater policing, 54 jobs could be cut 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 9:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.