An insider’s look at why St. Pete needs a new police HQ

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With Mayor Foster announcing there wasn’t the money for a new police HQ, he has resoundingly indicated public safety is NOT  job #1.

Since no one at the Police Department will speak up for fear of their jobs, and Chief Harmon is unlikely to step into the spotlight and say what needs to be said about the current facility, let me take a shot.

I returned to the City in 2006 for a five year run at completing the technical implementation of the Police Department’s Dispatch and Record Management Systems.

Shortly after settling in, I noticed plaster foaming away on inside exterior wall, the roof leaked in the secure computer room. My work area supporting 13 people, an open space with cubicles, was cobbled together with cube walls of different colors from different manufactures purchased used from an office supply house. They were held together in some cases with cable ties.

Did I mention, it was occasionally necessary to remove several dead rats from the ceiling.

Electrical outlets were supplemented with power cords, often several linked together.

The equipment closets located throughout the building are not aligned vertically, making wiring and adding facilities difficult and costly.  Bundles of abandoned wire hang from pipes and lay in dropped ceilings because it is too costly to remove.

The data center air-conditioning was 17 years old, beyond its useful life. It was replaced with a commercial (not data center grade) system with a life expectancy of only 7 years for cost purposes and in anticipation of a new facility.

We added a third small auxiliary generator to back up one of the primary generators, since it had become unreliable, and the other primary generator was leaking oil.

The Communications Center on the fourth floor frequently suffered from roof leaks as did Chief Harmon’s own office, until extensive roof repairs were made. There were roof issues every spring I was there.

The Building Security system, now at least 15 years old, is not reliable.

Elevators are old and require significant repair. It is not uncommon for civilian employees coming to work  to find themselves on an elevator with a handcuffed juvenile subject. Very unnerving.

The facility consists of two buildings one constructed in 1950s and the second in 1970s. They are not aligned, so wiring and plumbing are expensive to install and maintain.

The eighty year old Annex across the street, given a true inspection, could easily be deemed unfit for human habitation.

No one at the police deparment is looking for a monument to law enforcement, they just want a decent and safe place to work.

What the City needs is a new police headquarters, not a new Pier.

Via Doc Webb.  You may reach Doc at

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.