TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the Florida Police Chiefs Association’s new recommendations for policing.
Holloway was joined by other members of the FPCA’s subcommittee including local police chiefs and community leaders.
Chief Holloway served as a Chair of the FPCA’s Subcommittee on Accountability and Societal Change, which formed last year to examine policing reform following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which sparked nationwide protests.
Last year, the St. Petersburg Police Department created a new division that changes the way officers respond to 911 calls. Instead of sending officers, dispatchers began sending social workers to respond to certain calls for service, including mental health crisis, suicide intervention and homeless complaints.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Holloway highlighted some of the recommendations the FPCA had recently put forth in a report. The FPCA reviewed the six main “pillars” from a 2015 report on 21st Century Policing from the President’s Task Force: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media community policing and crime reduction, training and education and officer wellness and safety.
One of the programs the Chief highlighted was the park, walk and talk program. It encourages officers to get out of their patrol cars and meet and speak with the people in the zones they handle. Officers Lauren Pilkenton and Samantha Reeder visited Tweety B’s Children’s Activity Center to give out free backpacks to the kids there. Owner Brandy Butler was quite impressed.
“I think it’s really good that they are coming out in the community before things happen to get to know their community,” said Butler. “Like Officer Lauren stopped by last Friday just happenstance. It wasn’t planned. She just said,hi, I’m your new community service officer. I just wanted to introduce myself. I see you guys are out here.. “
Michele Green co-owns a nail and hair salon on South MLK. She says a year ago, the climate with police officers was much different. “There was a lot of tension, I would say. Not trusting them. You know,” said Green. “Not feeling that they are for the community. Or even having our best interests at heart. “
She says a year has passed and she’s seeing positive improvements. “I think we’re working towards getting better. And I have seen improvement,” said Green. “I can say I have seen improvement. “