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Courts / Law

Pinellas Commissioners Call For Review Of Law Enforcement Policies Following George Floyd's Death

Police during a protest
CHAD CHRONISTER/TWITTER
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has led to several protests across Tampa Bay.

The Pinellas County Commission is asking county and local law enforcement agencies to review their policies in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis last week.

In a statement released on Thursday, commission chairwoman Pat Gerard said commissioners are “shocked and distressed” at the developments over the last week, which have sparked nationwide protests – including some in Tampa Bay that turned violent.

While Gerard said agencies in Pinellas County prohibit similar uses of force that resulted in Floyd’s death, she and commissioners are calling on the agencies to review their practices.

TELL US: Have You Participated In A Protest Over George Floyd's Death?

“We request that our Sheriff (Bob Gualtieri) and municipal Police Departments conduct a review of their Use of Force Policies and engage in future collaboration on the implementation of improvements and confirmation of best practices,” the statement read. “Even though Sheriff Gualtieri, (St. Petersburg) Mayor (Rick) Kriseman and (Clearwater) Mayor (Frank) Hibbard, and their respective agencies already prohibit the conduct which resulted in Mr. Floyd's death, they still support our request for a policy review.”

Earlier this week, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway condemned the actions by the Minneapolis officers and said such uses of excessive force are prohibited in his department.

“We disagree with what that officer did,” Holloway said during a Sunday news conference. “There was no call for that officer to do what he did to Mr. Floyd. That officer should have been arrested and hopefully he will be convicted.

“We want to build a relationship. We want to tell our people that that type of activity, or that type of tactic, will not be used in the city of St. Petersburg,” adding that an officer who uses such excessive force “will be fired.”

“Our job is to keep the community safe,” Holloway said.

Gerard’s statement also addressed the recent protests across Tampa Bay, calling the public’s right to peacefully voice their opinions “a fundamental principle of a free nation.”

“However, when a small group in a movement resorts to looting, destruction and violence as a means of capturing media attention, once again, this diverts our attention from the issues that we have avoided for too long,” the statement read. “Those who choose to ransack local businesses and commit violence against innocent parties must be stopped.”