BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, PH.D.
ST. PETERSBURG — For some time now, the St. Petersburg community as well as members of the St. Pete and Pinellas County law enforcement agencies have awaited Mayor Rick Kriseman’s decision on the next police chief for the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD).
The mayor announced Tony Holloway, Chief of Police, City of Clearwater has been selected to lead SPPD. Holloway’s selection will be welcomed by many and questioned by some. Members of the Clearwater community will be undoubtedly torn by Holloway’s departure and the realization they must now begin the search for a replacement.
Already, some in St. Pete are questioning Kriseman’s decision for a host of reasons. Inasmuch as Holloway was not in the initial applicant pool, Kriseman’s $14,000.00 expenditure to recruit potential applicants and what police union members are calling a failed commitment to transparency top the list.
I take this opportunity to commend Mayor Kriseman for demonstrating the courage of his conviction to select a police chief he believes has the greatest potential to lead the department and the communities it serves past the tension and divisiveness of the past four years. The time and monies spent to date pale in comparison when one considers the consequences of making a poor decision pressured by the politics of a well-designed campaign.
A mayor or city manager must have the utmost faith and confidence in the police chief, thus the ultimate decision must rest with them. Based upon my knowledge of the department and the problems it faces, I believed the selection of an internal candidate would perpetuate the discord. However, I never endorsed a candidate for the position.
It appears the mayor, in his wisdom, has selected an external candidate with a local flavor. Chief Holloway is a familiar face in the Tampa Bay law enforcement community and has some understanding of the regional issues. Additionally, he has commanded two police agencies.
The St. Petersburg Police Department is an agency of values, rules, regulations and procedures. I am hopeful Chief Holloway will reaffirm the tenets of Respect, Accountability and Integrity and move the department back to its position of prominence.
I am hopeful he will move the various internal factions to neutral corners, assure everyone a new day is dawning, all slates are clean and demand compliance with established rules, regulations and laws in addition to fair, impartial, respectful service and law enforcement.
I am also hopeful those outside the department will unite behind Chief Holloway and his leadership. I am confident the majority of the men and women at SPPD are desirous of the same.
I offer my best to Chief Tony Holloway, Mayor Rick Kriseman and all of the police personnel serving our great city.