Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.
ST. PETERSBURG — How many times have you heard that “they will do what they want to do anyway” as a reason for not getting involved in social action. I have listened to it far too many times to count. Once again, a recent decision by the St. Petersburg Police Department, Mayor Rick Kriseman and the city council proved the naysayers wrong and strengthened my resolve.
As you know, in July, I wrote a column entitled “Say Something!” as well as other columns advocating for enhanced police and community accountability through the department’s deployment of body-worn cams. For five years or more, Chief Anthony Holloway toyed with the community regarding the body cam issue. He researched body cams, conducted trial studies and generally kicked the can down the road.
I am pleased to announce Assistant Chief Antonio Gillium made a presentation to the city council on Oct. 15, recommending the purchase of body cams for 500 St. Petersburg police officers and received unanimous approval. The 500 cameras will be supplemented with dashboard cameras for the vehicles.
Kudos are in order for Assistant Chief Gillium and his team, Mayor Kriseman, council members and the men and women of the St. Petersburg Police Department.
A very special thank you and highest regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, the dedicated St. Petersburg protesters, and all of the individuals who ignored apathy and naysayers and wrote the mayor, police chief and city council members advocating for police body cameras.
You said something, and the city government acted — body cameras are now a reality for St. Petersburg Police Officers. The cameras should be fully employed by the end of the year. We must now advocate for effective policy and training to govern their implementation and use.
Many in the community shared with me their emails and correspondence to Mayor Kriseman and the city council. They varied in length, ranging from one-line statements to one paragraph and longer. They all conveyed the same message: support for body-worn cameras and prove that if you “say something” and stay the course, the individuals you elect to represent you will do something.
Thanks, SPPD, Mayor Kriseman and members of the council. And to the St. Petersburg community, much love and appreciation and never forget: we all have a responsibility to “say something.”