What You Need to Know About Switching to the Sheriff

Cathy Salustri


On Tuesday voters will decide whether or not they want the current police or the Pinellas County Sheriff (PCSO) to patrol St. Pete Beach. We’ve collected reader and resident questions about what would happen if the city switched from its own police force to the PCSO. Here’s what the city told us.

1. How many deputies will patrol St. Pete Beach?  
The city will have 11 deputies patrolling the city daily. At the start the city plans to have one sergeant and two deputies between 3:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.; one sergeant and three deputies from 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.; and one sergeant and four deputies between 7:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.

2. Will the deputies be in the city at all times during their shift?  
Yes.

3. What happens to the dispatchers and officers?  
The Sheriff will offer all officers and dispatchers a job.

4. Will we have the same officers or different ones all the time?  
The Sheriff plans to assign the same officers to the city from day to day. He says that officers can, of course, request a transfer, but he assured the commission he intends to keep the same men and women in the city on a regular basis. Residents of Tierra Verde confirmed that the Sheriff does this in their neighborhood.

5. Will our current officers have first crack at St. Pete Beach positions with the PCSO?  
Not at first, but after they complete their orientation period (between two and six months) they will have the opportunity to return to the city.

6. What happens to the non-emergency number?  
You can still call it for non-emergency situations, but the line will ring at the Sheriff’s dispatch, not the local police department. This is similar to what happens in Gulfport.

7. What happens to the police station?
City Manager Mike Bonfield says the city has not decided anything about the building yet.

8. What will happen to our cars?  
The PCSO will take possession of most of them to offset its start-up costs in the city. The PCSO will put its own cars on the street, and they  will look the cars you see in South Pasadena, Tierra Verde, and Madeira Beach.

9. Will there be someone in the police station 24/7?
No. The city will no longer have its own police station as residents know it now. However, the city manager says he anticipates a detective and the community officer will have an office in city hall.

10. Will we still have a holding cell?  
No

11. How will this affect response time when I call 911?
As 911 calls already go to central dispatch and not the city dispatch, this will have no impact on response time for emergency calls.

12. How will the city communicate concerns about staffing, community concerns, and other issues to the officers? Who is the boss, St. Pete Beach or the Sheriff?
St. Pete Beach is a customer of the Sheriff’s Office. Residents and businesses can contact the PCSO directly or contact their commissioner or the city manager if they have concerns.

13. What changes should I expect in my service?  
None

14. If I want to keep the St. Pete Beach police, should I vote yes or no?  
If you want to keep the city police, vote no. If you would rather the city contract with the Sheriff, vote yes.