Saturday, November 18, 2017
Politics

Police union backs St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in re-election campaign

RECOMMENDED READING


By DIVYA KUMAR

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The Suncoast Police Benevolent Association, a union representing more than 500 St. Petersburg police officers, "proudly and enthusiastically" endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman for re-election on Friday.

Detective George Lofton, president of the PBA, said the union was often at odds with City Hall during the tenure of Kriseman's opponent, former mayor Rick Baker.

"When we had a different administration, things weren't always so great," Lofton said at a news conference in Bartlett Park. "The sun wasn't shining here in St. Pete. Morale was the lowest it had ever been in my 27-year career as a law enforcement officer.

"There was a revolving door for police officers here in St. Petersburg itself. There were over 100 officers that were leaving the agency having to be replaced for several years."

Lofton blamed administrators who served under Baker for lowering morale at the police force.

The union official did not name names, but one of those administrators was former St. Petersburg police Chief Goliath Davis III, who served under Baker as police chief and then deputy mayor. Davis supported Kriseman in the 2013 election, but is set to co-host a campaign event for Baker on Saturday.

"Today under Mayor Kriseman's administration, we've got a renewed vigor in the police department," Lofton said. "Our relations with the community are definitely getting stronger every day. The morale at the St. Petersburg Police Department is the highest it's ever been in probably decades."

Kriseman, who appointed Anthony Holloway as police chief in 2014, thanked the PBA for its support and said his administration started "the beginning of a new day at the police department."

The mayor said the rate of overall crime has fallen each year he's been in office and that violent crimes have fallen by 26 percent.

"Tips are now up, crime is now down," Kriseman said. "We are solving crimes faster. Cold cases are now being solved. And that's because the relationship between the community and our police is growing stronger every day."

City Councilwoman Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, who attended the event as a Kriseman supporter, said he has kept his promise on community policing. Under his administration, the police department implemented programs such as "park, walk and talk" — an initiative requiring officers to walk around a neighborhood and talk to residents for an hour each week.

"When the police and neighborhoods did not have a good relationship, everyone loses," Wheeler-Bowman said.

Contact Divya Kumar at [email protected] Follow @divyadivyadivya.

Comments
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Updated: 7 hours ago

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

Jose Vazquez, Democratic nominee in the Dec. 19 state House District 58 special election, doesn’t seem like a criminal. He’s 43, divorced with six children, and has worked as a security guard and in auto recycling. He was a high-level political field...
Published: 11/17/17
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Published: 11/17/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y. — Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t ...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.The allegations ag...
Published: 11/16/17
Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore won a reprieve in his struggle to survive as a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday when the Alabama Republican Party affirmed it would continue backing him despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers."Judge Moore ...
Published: 11/16/17