ST. PETERSBURG — With a new mayor taking over next month, taxpayers will not see a police officer driving Rick Kriseman around the Sunshine City in the fashion of his counterpart across the bay.
"I don't want someone with me all the time," Kriseman said Tuesday. "I'm not looking for that at all."
Kriseman said he does not want to spend money on a full-time driver like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is chauffeured in a city-owned car. The scheduling varies, but the retired officer is typically with Buckhorn, police said Tuesday.
"It would be a waste of manpower," Kriseman said. "We're not Tampa."
Since winning the Nov. 5 election, Kriseman said he discussed security topics with outgoing police Chief Chuck Harmon and soon-to-be interim Chief David DeKay.
Both lawmen said they have discussed general security issues, but neither said they advised Kriseman on the need for a police driver.
"I don't see the need for that," Harmon said, adding that Mayor Bill Foster and former mayor Rick Baker never used full-time drivers.
St. Petersburg police take security issues seriously for any mayor and their families, Harmon said. The department looked at Baker and Foster's schedule each week to decide whether officers needed to attend public events. Each event is decided on a case-by-case basis.
It's also possible that police will drive mayors to high-profile events, Harmon said.
"Foster valued his independence, and Baker didn't want to be tied down," Harmon said.
Kriseman said he will accept a driver when police recommend it for certain events.
Kriseman and his closest advisers have said the new mayor plans to operate St. Petersburg like it is Florida's fourth-largest city. He plans to hire a chief of staff and a spokesperson, positions not found in Foster's administration. Instead of spending countless hours in City Council meetings, Kriseman said he might skip them to work on improving the city.
Buckhorn only attends Tampa City Council meetings about once a year to present a budget.
Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @ markpuente.