A number of Pinellas County law enforcement agencies announced Monday policies that clarify officers’ responsibilities on potential misconduct by colleagues.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, as well as both the St. Petersburg and Clearwater police departments, issued updates that require officers to intervene immediately upon witnessing misconduct by fellow officers.
According to a release, St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway reviewed policies and added language to the department's General Orders saying:
"Officers have a duty to intervene to prevent or stop wrongdoing by another officer when it is safe and reasonable to do so."
The addition strengthens what's already in place for employees to let supervisors know quickly when they see any violation of department policies – and to take action on any violations of policies or the law.
After spending a few days out in the community over the weekend talking with people, Chief Holloway realized there was room for improvement. He said during a Facebook Live event on the St. Petersburg Police Department’s page that he came up with a simple change.
“We decided to add the word ‘intervene,’” he said, “to make it clear to the young officers, to make it clear to the community, that the officers will intervene when the see an officer doing something wrong.”
Holloway said he understands some may may take policies for granted, and that’s not acceptable.
“If you just say, 'well, yeah, don't worry about it, don't worry about it', then that policy is a waste, because then the culture says it's okay,” Holloway said. “It's not okay. If it's in the policy, it's in the policy for a reason. You're going to abide by that policy and procedure."
When asked about penalties for non-compliance, Holloway said it depended on the severity of the infraction, adding, “It could be suspension, it could be training, it could be firing."
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter met with representatives from the Pinellas County Ministerial Alliance Monday before a press conference where they said their agencies will implement similar policies.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online at WUSF.org/give