UPDATED 2:30 PM PT —Friday, July 10, 2020
Police in St. Petersburg, Florida are changing the way they respond to non-violent calls. According to reports, a social service agency will now report to 911 calls pertaining to drug overdoses, disorderly intoxication, suicide crises, truant and disorderly minors, and other non-violent issues.
“We are open to change,” stated Mayor Rick Kriseman. “As such, the money we plan to allocate to our police department to hire more officers will now go toward establishing a response team, consisting of community and social services professionals.”
Reimagining police response, moving forward together. https://t.co/oikBrPmufK
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) July 9, 2020
The new policy is part of the department’s Community Assistance Liaison Division.
“Those groups will go to those calls, they will go assist those people that are in need,” explained Police Chief Anthony Holloway. “The best thing about that is they’ll be able to follow up the next day.”
Their decision comes amid demands to cut back on funding for law enforcement. However, officials in St. Petersburg have decided to reallocate the money instead.
According to police, more than $3 million in federal funds will be poured into the city’s police reform measure, which was motivated by recent Black Lives Matter protests.
“Those protesting have helped to shine a light on injustice and inequity in America, two things that all of us up here have been dedicated to correcting our entire lives and throughout our time in public service,” added the mayor.
The decision followed thorough discussions between leaders within the community, including faith based institutions. The program is set to go into effect on October 1st.