Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A closer look at St. Petersburg police budget cuts

ST. PETERSBURG — The police chief blames rising crime on the plummeting economy.

But the blame doesn't end there: The shaky economy is also why the police department will have to battle more crime with fewer resources.

The agency had to cut 2 percent, or $1.8 million, from its $86 million budget this year. Next year's proposed reduction is even deeper: The department is preparing to cut 5 percent, or $3.9 million.

And in case the city's financial projections grow even more dire, preparations are being made for more drastic cuts of 7 and 10 percent.

"I think the budget reductions are going to make it more difficult for us to do our jobs," said police Chief Chuck Harmon.

Police statistics show a 7 percent rise in overall reported crime in the city in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2008.

To meet this year's budget reduction, the department cut almost $400,000 in fuel costs, nearly $600,000 in salaried positions and more than $800,000 in overtime.

The staff reductions came from the elimination of 15 full-time and five part-time administrative and support positions, many of which were vacant. But five employees, including three police cadets, were let go.

Next fiscal year's proposed cuts include $1.2 million in overtime and nearly $400,000 in operating expenses.

Under that scenario, the department will only bring in 10 cadets, cutting 20 positions. An undetermined number of support jobs could also be lost.

Still, the news isn't all bad. Despite the cuts, the chief expects to field the most officers in city history.

The force's authorized strength is 540 sworn officers. But federal grant and stimulus money will allow the department to hire as many as 545 officers — or more, if the mayor allows the money to be spent.

There are currently 531 officers on the job and 19 cadets waiting to take their state tests and join the force.

Getting to 545 shouldn't be hard thanks to a welcome byproduct of the economy: Fewer veterans are leaving for bigger agencies. But for those who do leave, plenty of cadets are waiting to fill their spots.

"If the consequence of the economy is we're at full strength," Harmon said, "that's a good thing."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

Fiscal 2009

budget cuts

Fuel: $387,000

Personnel: $572,402

Overtime: $830,132

Total cuts: $1,789,534

Source: St. Petersburg Police Department

A closer look at St. Petersburg police budget cuts 06/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.