New policy for police pursuits in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is putting some restrictions on who police can chase and who they can't. In an effort to minimize risk to the community, the mayor announced a policy change Wednesday that allows officers to only chase "violent felons."

St. Pete NAACP President Reverend Manuel Sykes has heard plenty of stories from family, friends and congregation members.

"I don't apologize for nor do I defend criminals, but when you have innocent people that are most often affected whether they're law enforcement or community members by this kind've cat and mouse, cowboys and indians-- it's gotta stop," he said.

He's lauding the decision by St. Pete's new Mayor.

"It doesn't make any sense to go chasing around somebody who hasn't done something immediately violent," said Kurt Donley, St. Pete Council of Neighborhood Associations.

Neighbors have also complained about stolen car pursuits to Donley who sits on CONA's Safety Committee.

"It would make sense that neighbors there are tired of seeing cars flying through there," said Donley.

The old policy, put into place by former Mayor Bill Foster when he took office, allowed police to chase "forcible felons." "Forcible felonies" included burglaries and stealing vehicles.

A July 2012 chase after burglary suspects out of Treasure Island ended in a crash with three other cars.

"Do we want to put people's lives at risk over a stolen car? Is it worth putting a child who just happens to be on their street at the wrong time, is it worth putting their life at risk because someone's car was stolen? I think the answer to that question is no," said St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman.

"It's the public safety and also the safety of the officers doing their jobs that concerns us," said Interim St. Pete Police Chief David DeKay.

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