ST. PETERSBURG (CW44 News at 10) – St. Petersburg Police Department is changing the language in policies in response to the global protests inspired by the murder of George Floyd. The department states they are working with the community on the transparency of these changes. After a thorough review, police say once small change will make a big impact in regards to what is expected of an officer who encounters excessive force.
Chief Holloway has decided to add the following language to the department’s General Orders:
“Officers have a duty to intervene to prevent or stop wrongdoing by another officer when it is safe and reasonable to do so.”
This is in addition to the language the General Orders already contain to address this very concern:
General Order IV-1, Rules of Conduct, III, A, 5, b Employees shall advise: A supervisor, as soon as practical, of violations of this Order and/or any General Orders.
General Order IV-1, Rules of Conduct, III, F,3. Members shall take necessary action on a known violation of law or local ordinance, unless such action is prohibited or restricted by this or any other General Order or policy.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Holloway says, “We’re learning a lot from this conversation. We wanted people to know that we’re listening to what they’re saying. We’ve already had a policy in place, what the officer should do if he or she saw an officer do something wrong, how they should report it. We decided to add in the word, “intervene” to make it clear to the young officers, to make it clear to the community, that the officer will intervene when they see someone doing something wrong.”
Chief Holloway continues, “If it’s in the policy, it’s in the policy for a reason, you’re going to abide by that policy and procedure. You have to make sure that your supervisor understands that, you’ve got to make sure the people that work for you understands that, and you all have to show them if they do violate that policy, that something is going to happen to them.”
Holloway reminds the public that his officers were practicing this effort prior to the new amendment; however, he did recall one incident in the past where an officer used excessive force. “About two years ago, when an officer did use excessive force on a suspect that was in custody and the guy didn’t even know the officer was using excessive force. Two officers went right away and reported that officer using excessive force. That officer was terminated and we thank those two officers for coming forward.”
Holloway concluded, “Everytime we have an internal further investigation, you can ask for a public record request once a week, once a month, every day, and we’ll release that. We’re going to be very transparent. I may start adding onto that. So it is out there for everyone to see. And that’s how you continue to build that trust, by being very transparent.”