St. Petersburg cops will no longer react to non-violent 911 calls, for example, quality-of-life grievances or mental health worries, in the midst of across the country calls for spending cuts and policing changes, the agency declared.
The city’s police department will instead send employees from its newly created Community Assistance Liaison division, which officials described as “a social service agency.” They will respond to 911 calls pertaining to a number of issues, including drug overdoses, disorderly intoxications, and suicide crises the department said in a Thursday press release.
“Change is coming to St. Pete Police Department,”
Chief of Police Anthony Holloway during a Thursday press conference, referencing the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a Black man, died after a White police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
City officials have, in turn, ordered the reallocation of $3.1 million in federal grant money and $3.8 million in earmarked city funding to the new program, according to the release. The funds initially were intended to pay for the hiring of 25 more police officers for the department.
According to the press release, CAL officers will respond to the following calls:
- Intoxicated individuals
- Mental health crises
- Drug overdose
- Disorderly intoxication
- Suicide crises
- Homeless complaints and panhandling
- Neighborhood disputes
- Truancy, or disorderly minors
- Disorderly juveniles at elementary schools
The program is slated to begin Oct. 1.