St. Pete neighborhood crime-watch groups appeal to Mayor for help in working with police chief

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Judy Ellis is passionate about her Lakewood Estates Civic Association neighborhood watch program. 

So much so, she wants St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon to give them access to a real-time active calls list.  The department's website currently has a link to CrimeReports, which allows users to track crime, but it's only updated hourly.

"It doesn't provide the timeliness, and it doesn't provide the information that we need to know why, for example, I have eight police cars down on the corner of my street," Ellis explained.

Chief Harmon sent Ellis a detailed response recently on why he believes the department can't fully meet her demands.

Harmon also assured her his department, "strives to provide as much information to our citizens as we reasonably can, without compromising operational efforts," Harmon wrote.

Some agencies in the area do provide more up to date information, although none in actual real-time.

"We've talked to him at great length since way back in January about the need for real-time reporting in our neighborhoods.  And for reasons we don't quite understand, he's not willing to do any of the things that we suggested," Ellis said.

So today, a letter on behalf of seven neighborhood groups to St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster was hand delivered to City Hall by Ellis.

Foster told us he hasn't yet had time to read it.  But, he added that he does not support real-time updates of police calls.  

But Ellis hopes the Mayor will help broker a compromise.

"We're trying to make some forward progress.  The frustration here is that we can't make any.  We haven't been able to get a crack in that door.  The answer has basically no, and no ....and (pause) no," Ellis said.

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