Florida Police Department Will Stop Sending Officers To Non-Violent Calls

By Bill Galluccio

July 10, 2020

As part of a series of reforms, a police department in Florida will no longer send officers to non-violent calls. Instead, the St. Petersburg Police Department will be creating a new division, the Community Assistance Liaison (CAL), to handle reports involving drunk or disorderly individuals, drug overdoses, and other public nuisance calls.

The department said it will retain a social services agency to handle those calls. The social workers will be dressed in regular clothes and will not be armed.

"Our citizens are asking for change," Police Chief Anthony Holloway said. "The city of St. Petersburg and our police department are ready for change."

Holloway said the department will pay for the new program by reallocating funds that were earmarked for hiring 25 additional officers over the next two years.

City officials assured residents that officers will still respond to reports of violent crimes and life-threatening situations.

The Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association supported the new reforms.

"Reducing the police response to non-criminal incidents has been a long-standing issue, and it should, in turn, increase police visibility, crime reduction, and police availability to our citizens," said union president Jonathan Vazquez. "We believe this will lead to decreased strain on our police resources, reduce risk to our member officers, and better outcomes to the most vulnerable citizens that we serve."

The department said it will evaluate the program after one year to determine if it was effective.

Photo: Getty Images

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