City leaders announced this month that noncriminal and nonviolent calls will be handled by social workers, not uniformed officers. The proposed program is a response to the demands for police reform from Black Lives Matter protesters.
“Our citizens are asking for change,” St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway told the media during the July 9 announcement. “The city of St. Petersburg and our police department are ready for change.”
But one constituency is not ready: the city’s firefighters and paramedics.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue firefighter Richard Pauley Jr., president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 747, said the union had “no forewarning” of the city’s plans. When an emergency is reported to 911, police officers usually arrive at the scene first. They make sure the area is safe for firefighters and paramedics to do their jobs.