New St. Pete police chief: 'Get out of your car'

Anthony Holloway promises community policing

Faye Watson was just a teenager in St. Petersburg when she lost one of the closest members of her family.

"I had a sister who was murdered in this city," said Watson, recalling how difficult it was to get people in her neighborhood to cooperate with police investigators.

"Of course we wanted the community to help us, to tell them what they know," Watson said. "But there's also a sense of not being protected when you share information. And self-preservation is always going to be the number one choice."

Watson, 54, said she heard that newly appointed police chief Anthony Holloway is a supporter of community policing, and she hopes he can change the culture of silence that makes catching criminals that much tougher for police.

"I think we need to develop a way for people to help, to share information," Watson said. "To snitch."

Mayor Rick Kriseman formally introduced Holloway as the chief Tuesday morning and scoffed at critics concerned that he passed over four finalists in favor of Clearwater's former chief.

"I did not see within the four everything I was looking for," said Kriseman. "And that's why I went outside."

Missing from Holloway's formal introduction was Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, whom many within the department and on the city council were expecting to be chosen as the city's first female chief of police.  

Holloway said he believed that many local police departments had turned too much attention to outside threats like terrorism in the years following 9/11, and it was time for St. Petersburg police to look inward to the local community.

"Get out and know the 95 percent of the people in the community that are good in the community," Holloway said. "Get out of your car. Talk to those people, because you know what? They can give you a lot of information."

St. Petersburg has a history of division between some residents in high crime neighborhoods and the police department. Holloway said he is committed to bridging the gap.

"To get us all on the same sheet of music."

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