Q: What would have to happen for St. Pete Beach to disband its police department and hire the Sheriff? Could they reverse this move at a later date?
A: The voters would have to vote in favor of disbanding the police department, as the charter mandates the city have its own police department.
“It clearly would take some amendment to the city charter through the public referendum process,” City Manager Mike Bonfield said. “Generally the city commission retains home rule authority to re-establish the department at any time within the constraints of the city charter at the time of consideration.”
Unless the city held a referendum very soon, the city could not make the switch for the coming budget year. Although the city has no edict outlining deadlines, city staff generally tries to get a budget to the commission for discussion and approval by July. The commission must approve a budget before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
Here’s what the city charter says, to the letter, about the police department:
“Sec. 4.06. - Police department.
“The St. Pete Beach Police Department shall be established as a Charter Department of the City of St. Pete Beach and all law enforcement activities shall be performed by employees of the department. No law enforcement activity shall be transferred by contract or other process to any department or employee not administered by the City Manager of the City of St. Pete Beach.”
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