Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Deputy Mayor and the PD

St. Petersburg's new deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin is getting an up close and personal introduction to the politics at the St. Petersburg Police Department.

In an article in the Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg deputy mayor reveals what led her to halt police promotions, Kameel Stanley reports on a conversation with the new Deputy Mayor about the widely reported meeting at the Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Church where Assistant Policed Chief Luke Williams and several other officers were in attendance and concerns were expressed about the recent promotional process.

I think Mayor Kriseman needs to get the Deputy Mayor and her side kick Ms. Gaskin-Capehart's fingers out of the Police Department right now. Neither has any significant experience in law enforcement or the politics of the St. Pete PD.

Ms. Tomalin was not elected by the people Mayor Kriseman was, I understand the concept of Deputy Mayor, but the PD, it's polices and decisions should be the purview of the elected Mayor.

The issues of Policing and the Police Chief were a central concern in the election and the Mayor should not punt the responsibility for this most critical issue to a Deputy Mayor with limited experience.

"There is an undercurrent that just seems to be simmering," Tomalin said.

"The cultural concerns had been around for a while," Gaskin-Caperhart said. "This isn't new."

The under current that Deputy Mayor Tomalin is sensing is more than about internal political posturing in the management ranks at the PD and external agitation by former PD members than in the rank and file.

In a recent in depth conversation with Mark Marland, the PBA (Police Union) President we spoke at length about the racial issue at the St. Pete PD. Marland's position is there is no simmering racial undercurrent in the patrol officer ranks at the PD.

Perhaps the Deputy Mayor should do some independent research encompassing a broader base and get a fuller picture of the playing field.

To set the context, I was the IT Manager at the ST. Petersburg PD for five years, I retired in 2011.

I agree with the PBA President's view. Personally I saw a lot more racial tension at the management level than I did in the patrol ranks.

The selection of a new Police Chief should not be influenced by a small group of retired Police officials who would like to continue to have a say in how the PD operates. Further, the new Police Chief needs to be a Police Chief for all of St. Petersburg not for any specific section or group.

Mayor Kriseman needs to be solely in charge of  the Police Chief selection process and remove anyone from that process has any ties to the PD be they family, friend, relative or retiree and conduct an open, impartial search and evaluation to select the best candidate for a new chief. 

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