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St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster previously met the teen accused of killing police officer

ST. PETERSBURG — When Mayor Bill Foster saw the photograph of the 16-year-old accused of killing a St. Petersburg police officer, it was a face he knew.

Foster had met with Nicholas Lindsey, a student at Gibbs High School, months ago.

"That was a face of a young person who just killed one of my police officers, but there's more to that story," he said Wednesday. "That was a different face than what I saw when I went to that kid's home a few months ago."

The mayor wouldn't go into details about the meeting, but Lindsey's mother, Deneen Sweat, 43, said Foster came to their apartment shortly after he took office last year.

The visit, she said Wednesday afternoon, was to recognize the teen for having counseled fellow teens against gang violence. Apparently, she said, school officials knew he was trying to stop the gang violence between Bethel Heights and some other groups, like Harbordale.

Earlier in the day, she addressed reporters outside her Citrus Grove apartment.

During those remarks, she expressed her sorrow for Officer David Crawford's family. Her son is accused of shooting him after the veteran police officer stopped him after 10:30 p.m. Monday while responding to a prowler call.

"I've asked for help for my son since he's been in middle school," she said Tuesday morning. "The mayor has been to my house to talk to my son because he was a first-time offender. The only thing he has on his record is grand theft. It ended up as trespassing."

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Foster said he would like to talk to Harmon about the Police Department's bullet-resistant vest policy.

Currently, patrol officers are required to have a vest, but it is at their discretion whether to wear it. Crawford was not wearing his when he was fatally shot Monday.

In the wake of his death, three council members — Karl Nurse, Jeff Danner and Wengay Newton — have said it's time to reconsider the policy.

Foster said he didn't know the department didn't require officers to wear bullet-resistant vests until Crawford's death.

He said he will discuss the policy with Harmon but wouldn't say if he wanted it changed.

"I'm not going to tell you that before I tell my chief of police," he said Wednesday. Generally, however, Foster said, "sometimes people have to do things they're not happy with, like wear safety belts. It's not like we send our firefighters into burning buildings without the proper gear."

He said he just didn't know how far to take the policy. After all, he's seen officers at neighborhood meetings without vests.

"Should they wear them at community forums and high school football games, too?"

He said he'd also like to discuss dashboard cameras with Harmon.

"If he feels like they are a necessity, we can come up with the funding," he said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster previously met the teen accused of killing police officer 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 3:20pm]
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