After a summit with community organizers, protesters, faith leaders, and the police union, the St. Petersburg Police Department announced Thursday that they will no longer send officers out to respond to non-violent 911 calls. As part of the Defund the Police initiative that Black Lives Matter supporters are demanding, the Florida law enforcement agency said that they will instead create a new division called the Community Assistance Liaison (CAL). This agency will be staffed with social workers and they will be responsible for responding to 911 calls that don’t involve immediate violent situations.
Those situations will include:
- Disorderly intoxication
- Drug overdose
- Intoxicated person
- Mental health crisis
- Suicide crisis
- Mental Health Transport
- Disorderly juvenile/truancy
- Disorderly Juvenile at Elementary Schools
- Homeless complaints
- Neighborhood disputes
The new policy, which will go into effect on the 1st of October, will be monitored for a year to “determine whether this approach has been successful or whether officers were still required to respond to these issues in addition to the CAL team member.”
Critics, however, are already quite certain that this approach will end in disaster.
“Not every 911 call starts violent – but many of them end that way,” tweeted Law Enforcement Today. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen…and it’s spreading across America.”
At the press conference, St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway said that the creation of the new agency was a response to demands from the community.
“Now after all those conversations, we had one common goal, and that common goal is very simple. Our citizens is asking for change. The city of St. Petersburg and the police department is ready for that change,” Holloway said.
“When a police officer responds to these calls, these are non-violent calls,” he continued. “These are calls that people are asking for help. Our police department is very young, the average age is about 25, and some of these men and women don’t even have kids at home, but we’re asked sometimes to help someone raise their kids. We’re sometimes asked someone -to help someone, that has a mental issue. Yes, we go to a lot of training, but we don’t have enough training. We’re not experts in that.”
Holloway makes some sound points there, but we aren’t crazy about this idea that police departments are going to start making major changes simply because a guy died in Minneapolis. That…that doesn’t track. It makes no sense at all. And when new policies and programs come out of nonsense, it doesn’t bode well for the community or the country as a whole.