ST. PETERSBURG – The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, located at 2240 9th Ave. S., played host last Thursday to a meet and greet for St. Petersburg’s newest member of the police force.
Chief of Police Anthony Holloway waited patiently for District 7 School Board member Renee Flowers to finish as she doted on him.
“It is not often that we have an opportunity to be able to greet and meet someone in our community that will have a tremendous impact on us,” she said calling attention to the fact that Holloway has a different approach to help cut down on crime.
Flowers has always been big on embracing new members in leadership and called on the community to support him and step up to the plate in actively becoming involved in their neighborhood’s plights.
“If we don’t help ourselves no one else will,” she continued, “so we have to make sure that we are supporting one another.”
But Holloway’s approach to the job may make Flower’s call to action simpler for those living in high crime neighborhoods. With his boots on the street, feet on the ground plan, Holloway plans to reestablish the police force to an entity that works within the community and is not just seen riding around in cars.
He calls it Park, Walk, and Talk and plans are already underway to implement it within the next couple of weeks.
And, “it’s just that,” said Holloway who intends to have police officers park their patrol cars and walk around neighborhoods, talking to those who live there. “We want to get to know who you are, what you are, and what the community’s about.” Holloway said it’s the only way to get those doing wrong out of the neighborhoods.
The new police chief also wants to take an interest in educating the young. As he looked around the room of the museum, Holloway commented on the women present and told of his own time growing up as part of a single parent family. He recalled being in by dark and not hanging out on the streets and aims to get the neighborhood kids to buy into the same rationale.
Holloway has been with the city of Clearwater’s police force since 1985, rising to the prestigious rank of chief of police there in 2010. As a career law enforcement professional, Holloway is highly regarded in the field. Having served as Chief of Police also in Massachusetts, Holloway has proven his ability to work with ethnically diverse populations and plans to bring the city of St. Petersburg together in its mission of oneness. But Holloway knows it won’t all happen overnight, but he is in it for the long haul.
“There’s going to be some ups and downs, some days you’re going to like me, some days you’re going to hate me,” he said to the residents in attendance. “Some days it’s going to be sweet, some days it’s going to be bitter, some days it will be just right.”
Terri Lipsey-Scott, Chairwoman of the Carter G. Woodson threw out some unknown trivia to end the short get-together. Having been born in Sulphur Springs and raised in the bay area, attending Hillsborough High School, Holloway is a local boy. Upon serving out his duties as Sergeant in the Clearwater Police Department, Holloway enrolled in Eckerd College here in St. Petersburg earning a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. He later went on to earn a Master’s degree in Business Administration.
“He’s the first African-American chief who graduated from a local college,” Lipsey-Scott said. “That’s history.”
Lipsey-Scott and other leaders of the community, such as Watson Haynes of Pinellas County Urban League, Councilmember Karl Nurse and local police officers were all in attendance to not only celebrate in Holloway’s appointment, but to support his role in the community.
Holloway has committed to, “Chatting with the Chief,” where he will be stationed at the Woodson Museum on a regular basis to meet with those in the community who wish to discuss ideas in regards to how to go about making where they live a better place.
“He’s not new to this, he’s true to this,” remarked Flowers.
For now though, residents will have to wait and see if all the talk will make a difference. Holloway’s approach seems to have reduced crime in our sister city of Clearwater, so maybe his style of enforcing the law will make a difference here.