Florida Police send social workers instead of police to non-violent emergency calls under reform plans
- St. Peterburg Police are planning to hire up to 20 social workers for its new Community Assistance Liaison team
- From October 1, instead of sending a police officer, a member of a new division will respond to calls regarding mental health and intoxication
- The CAL department will be funded from a federal grant originally intended to employ an additional 25 police officers over the next two years
- Agency is preparing a broader reform plan, including additional training in de-escalation and non-lethal self-defense tactics for officers
The city of Saint Petersburg in Florida announced on Thursday a plan to allow social workers to respond to non-violent emergency calls instead of police officers.
At the heart of the new initiative, which was unveiled at a news conference by Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chief of Police Anthony Holloway, is the creation of a new police department, the Community Assistance Liaison, which will be staffed by social services professionals. .
Starting on October 1, instead of sending a police officer, a member of the new division will respond to calls with a wide range of nonviolent complaints, including disordered poisoning, drug overdoses, psychological or suicidal crises, panhandling, and neighborhood disputes.
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St. Peterburg police unveiled a plan on Thursday to hire up to 20 social workers for its new Community Assistance Liaison team
From October 1, instead of sending a policeman, a member of the new division will respond to calls with issues such as mental crises and intoxication
The change was revealed amid widespread calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May.
“Today we’re here to talk about change,” Chief Holloway told reporters on Thursday. “And the St. Pete police are about to change.”
Last year, St. Petersburg police responded to nearly 13,000 non-violent service calls out of a total of 259,800 calls. The idea is for social workers to take up these calls so that agents can respond more freely to more serious crimes.
The CAL division is funded by a federal grant of $ 3.12 million and $ 3.8 million from city funds that were originally intended to hire 25 additional police officers over the next two years.
The team consists of 18 to 20 professionals who work from 06:00 to 02:00 every day. They will be civilian and unarmed.
Last year, St. Petersburg police responded to nearly 13,000 nonviolent calls for services
A police officer is always dispatched to violent or life-threatening situations.
The initiative has received approval from the Regional Police Union, the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association reported Bay News 9.
“We think this will reduce the pressure on the police, reduce the risks to our members and the better outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens we serve,” said union president Jonathan Vasquez.
Police chief Anthony Holloway said that police officers will no longer be sent to purely race-based calls
For a year, the police follow calls on quality of life issues to see if the presence of agents alongside social workers was still necessary.
The establishment of the social service department is only part of a broader reform plan, which includes additional training in de-escalation and non-lethal self-defense tactics for officers and more training for recruits.
Holloway said he is looking to add a civilian member of a civil rights or faith-based organization to the department’s recruiting committee, as well as to increase patrols in the city from the current hour per week to two hours .
As part of the plan to ‘re-propose’ the St. Petersburg Police Force, a comprehensive evaluation would be carried out that would look at ways to improve the Use of Force Police Force and how complaints are handled and calls made. monitors based purely on race.
“Believe it or not, we still get calls,” There’s an African American man in the park. He’s not like us, “said Holloway. “We’re not coming to those calls. If that person has not committed a crime, we will not go there. ‘