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Courts / Law

Tampa Bay Area Law Enforcement Agencies Finalizing Budgets After Pressure From Social Justice Movements

a woman wearing a mask at a Black Lives Matter Tampa protest points her cell one camera at Tampa Police Officers wearing riot gear.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
A woman at a Black Lives Matter: Tampa Protest at Cyrus Greene Park earlier this year films Tampa Police as the group marches past.

After months of social justice protests, law enforcement agencies will soon finalize their fiscal year 2021 expenses as cities and counties wrap up public meetings on proposed budgets.

It’s budget season for police and sheriff’s departments in the Tampa Bay area. As city and county leaders decide how much to spend and on what, social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, have pressured them to cut law enforcement budgets.

But those budgets have remained mostly intact.

RELATED: ‘Defund The Police’ Has Many Meanings For Tampa’s Black Lives Matter Protesters

These agencies will soon finalize their fiscal year 2021 expenses as cities and counties wrap up public meetings on proposed budgets.

The St. Petersburg Police Department had the most radical change. It recently added a new community program where social and mental health workers will respond to non-criminal domestic calls instead of police officers. The department's overall budget decreased by $1.6 million.

Several other law enforcement agencies saw slight increases in budgets to account for inflation and cost of living - at about 3-5%.

Police Departments:

Tampa - After local protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and in response to additional blowback for police mistreatment of Tampa protesters, former Tampa Police Chief and Mayor Jane Castor created a new task force to recommend changes in city police policy and practice. In response to “de-funding the police department,” she said she supports giving social service responsibilities to others if a safety net is in place but that shifting money from one budget into another could lead to dangerous situations. The projected operating budget for fiscal year 2020 is $182,164,976 and the proposed FY 2021 budget is $179,747,618.

St. Petersburg - In response to multiple demands for reform, St. Petersburg is "re-imagining" the city’s police force by creating a new program called the Community Assistance Liaison Program which will include 18 to 20 social and mental health workers who will be tasked with responding to non-criminal calls in place of police officers. The FY 2020 budget was estimated at $118,690,933, while the proposed FY 2021 is $117,096,212.

Clearwater - The projected operating budget for FY2020 is 44,832,880 and the proposed FY 2021 budget is $46,965,023.

Sarasota - The executive summary states “… following the George Floyd tragedy, we have faced a period of social upheaval, and 19 protests locally, urging police reform and racial equality throughout society.” The operating budget in FY 2020 was $34,171,327 and the proposed FY 2021 budget is $35,598,578.

Lakeland The FY 2020 police budget was $45,032,613. Total Community Safety budget was $ 69,880,478, which includes Community Police, Dispatching, Firefighting, Investigative, Patrol and Rescue Services. FY 2021 for the police department specifically has not not yet posted.

Sheriff’s Offices:

Hillsborough FY 2020 $463,531,660 and FY 2021 proposed budget is $480,018,700.

Pinellas - FY 2020 $52,745,950 and proposed FY 2021 budget $53,435,630.

Sarasota FY 2020 budget $120,799,333 and proposed FY 2021 budget is $123,999,915.

Manatee County leaders have agreed to a plan to fund a 3% increase to the Sheriff’s Office budget for FY 2021, an additional $4.4 million. Proposed are 12 new positions, including six patrol deputies, two court security deputies, a new domestic violence unit detective, one fleet mechanic, a resource assistant program deputy and one records clerk. This includes $200,000 for de-escalation training to assist front-line responders in handling difficult situations. The FY 2020 budget was $142,843,756 and the recommended FY 2021 is $147,539,390.

Polk Proposed FY 2021 budget is $2.9 million.

Pasco Public safety budget FY 2020 was $259,054,911, and proposed FY 2021 is $389,548,953. Specific sheriff’s budget unknown.