Yesterday, I received this reminder of Tiger Bay’s program on May 28, when St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon steps into the Tiger’s Den:
The City of St. Petersburg has plenty of the former these days, but what of the latter? Military-style assault weapons freely accessible by common criminals, open season on convenience store owners, young children in their homes losing their innocent lives, drug and prostitution deals happening openly on the streets. While every economic downturn in history has had its attendant spike in crimes associated with economic distress, many citizens of the City feel more unsafe than ever. Yet as at least one Mayoral candidate calls for his job, the City’s Police Chief, Charles “Chuck” Harmon, would cite statistics to show many crimes are down from earlier years. Who is right? Who is safe? Why do so many crimes go unreported, or if reported unpunished? Missing this program with the City’s top cop would be a crime!
Now, it’s one thing when a politicians is brave enough to stand before the blue-hairs in Tiger Bay and answer questions from inquisitors like Rob Eschenfelder and Jim Gillespie. The program announcements for politicians, like everyone else, are saucy and meant to entice people to come hear the speaker.
But the program announcement for Chuck Harmon, I believe, steps over the line. Military style assault weapons are not freely accessible, it is not open season on convenience store owners, one young child lost her innocent life and the idea of open-air drug markets is an urban myth.
I don’t think the good people at Tiger Bay, of which I am a member, meant to incite such fear with their program announcement, but they should have dialed it down a notch.
What I think this program announcement hints at is the same type of Kathleen Ford mentality revealed when she said she felt unsafe going south of Central Avenue or that this city is unsafe, when it’s actually remarkably safe for a city this size.
Some citizens may indeed feel unsafe but to characterize the crime issue the way this announcement does just plays into the worst fears of the citizenry.