All over the country, relations between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve are on edge, strained by the deaths of African American youths and men during confrontations with officers. So far, Pinellas County and its cities have remained calm. Could Pinellas County be the next Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore or Staten Island?
A distinguished panel of community and law enforcement leaders will discuss the status of police/community relations in Pinellas County at a forum on Sept. 17 sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, and co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU. The forum, titled A Community Conversation: Police and Citizens Seeking Common Ground, will be held from 6-8 p.m. at SPC’s Allstate Center, 3200 34th Street S. Free pizza and soda will be served to those registered in advance.
The prospect of a Ferguson-like police confrontation is a distressing thought for Pinellas County residents. But St. Petersburg experienced a similar event in 1996, when a white police officer shot and killed an African American teenager during a traffic stop. A night of rioting followed, and was renewed a few weeks later after the officer was exonerated by a grand jury. How are police/community relations different today than they were in 1996? What policies are in place to deal with such an event if it occurred?
The panel will explore these questions, as well as actions that can be taken to strengthen relations between police and the community. The panel includes:
- Anthony Holloway, Chief, St. Petersburg Police Department
- Bob Gualtieri, Sheriff, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
- Bernie McCabe, State Attorney, Sixth Judicial Circuit Court
- Dr. Bill Law, President, St. Petersburg College
- The Rev. Clarence Williams, Pastor, Greater Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church
- Moderated by Al Ruechel, Senior Anchor, Bay News 9
Advance reservations are required at http://solutions.spcollege.edu.
The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg is a resource for academic enrichment, a non-partisan venue for civil, objective debate of topical public issues, a center to promote better government, and a resource for sustainable economic development. Its mission is to support a broad array of research, training, educational and policy analysis and support activities at the local, state, regional and national levels.