Framed by St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway and Mayor Ken Welch, Samantha Richardson-Hardy smiled for a photo as they handed her a $2,000 check.
Richardson-Hardy was representing The Gathering of Women Inc. — one of 13 organizations that received grants from the Police Department on Monday. Richardson-Hardy said her organization runs a community garden for kids, and the money would go toward vegetables, soil and gardening tools.
“It means so much to us to get a grant like this,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.
The grants came from the St. Petersburg Police Department’s 2022 forfeiture funds. Florida state forfeiture law allows law enforcement agencies to seize property used to commit a felony, including items such as cash, cars or weapons. Any agency that seizes more than $15,000 in forfeitures must donate at least 25% of the funds to community-based organizations.
“Here at the St. Pete Police Department, we don’t look at it at 25%. We look at what great programs that our community leaders are doing for us,” Holloway said during the ceremony Monday.
In total, the department gave away $43,400 in grants and earmarked another $14,600 for community groups as needs arise. During fiscal year 2021-2022, the agency’s forfeitures totaled $117,453, meaning about half of the proceeds will go to community groups, a police spokesperson said. This year was the 30th year the agency distributed funds to local organizations.
This year, the grants went to organizations and groups such as the Gibbs High School Boys Basketball team, the Suncoast Cheerleading Association Inc. and New Frontiers of St. Petersburg Inc., which works with people struggling with addiction. The grants ranged from $1,000 to $15,000.
Lisa Ledbetter, the Police Department’s forfeiture grant program administrator, said the agency has received more than 80 applications in some years. This year, the agency received about 30 applications.
The grants focus on groups that work in crime prevention, neighborhood safety and drug abuse education, prevention or treatment, as well as school resource officer programs, Ledbetter said.
Applications open in August each year, she said. After the month ends, Holloway reviews them with his assistant chiefs and chooses how to distribute the funds.
Once the grants are awarded, the groups must provide quarterly reports of how they’ve used the money and stick to a budget.
Typically, the Police Department prioritizes programs that are already up and running and are ready to put the funds to work in the community, Ledbetter said.
“This is the best part of all — seeing everybody come out and get the funds that you know are going to be put and dispersed throughout the city, and touch young people’s lives,” she said.
At Monday’s ceremony, Christopher Lampley accepted checks on behalf of two programs: the D.O.S. Crescent Foundation Inc. and the St. Pete Value Program, run by the city’s parks and recreation department.
Want breaking news in your inbox?
Subscribe to our free News Alerts newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
The foundation is a nonprofit that helps K-12 kids overcome barriers through initiatives such as scholarships and school supply giveaways. The parks and recreation program has youth activities such as reading clubs, sports leagues and community service projects.
“Our city is great in the fact that we want to be able to give back more,” Lampley said. “And it’s really not us being recognized or us being noticed, but it’s more about just giving back to the community.”