St. Petersburg Police change pursuit policy - WFLA News Channel 8

St. Petersburg Police change pursuit policy

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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and interim police chief David DeKay St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and interim police chief David DeKay
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) - Police in St. Petersburg will only be allowed to conduct vehicle pursuits if the suspect was involved in a violent felony, according to a new policy announced Thursday.

The change was announced by new St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and interim police chief David DeKay.

St. Petersburg's rule on police pursuits had been loosened under former Mayor Bill Foster. Kriseman said the change to the stricter policy was being done because for public safety.

Under the revised policy, police would be able to pursue suspects in crimes including armed robbery, but not a stolen vehicle.

"Do we want to put people's lives at risk over a stolen car?" said Kriseman, who had addressed the issue on the campaign trail.

The change was welcomed by some including Rev. Manuel Sykes, a pastor with Bethel Community Baptist Church and president of the local NAACP.

Sykes has raised concerns about high-speed pursuits through St. Petersburg neighborhoods, and said he hopes the new rule will lead to fewer chases. However, he also said he hopes this is just a first step, and that police could utilize technology including GPS, traffic cameras and helicopters to track suspects in the future.

But the stricter policy is not sitting well with the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association.

Executive Director Michael Krohn said criminals could learn to take advantage of it.

"They're going to know that I can go commit any crime, hop in a stolen vehicle and flee, and the police officers can't chase after them unless it's a violent felony," he said. "So basically we're letting criminals go."

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