ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Following a recent story on the St. Petersburg Police Department’s crackdown on pedestrians who jaywalk, one viewer reached out to 10Investigates asking what happens when police break the rules too.
The viewer, Tom Rask, is a frequent Pinellas County government watchdog. And he said he had a great respect for St. Petersburg police. But he was concerned their jaywalking habits – immediately in front of the police station – could lead to a disrespect for the law.
So 10Investigates went out to 1st Ave. North in St. Petersburg, where on several different mornings, officers and police department employees could be seen crisscrossing the street without using the well-marked crosswalk installed there. Some of the employees crossed at times vehicles were approaching, forcing them to slow down – apparent violations of the state’s laws on pedestrians.
Many of the officers crossed mid-block, only about 30 paces from the crosswalk, which may seem minimal, but St. Petersburg police had stressed to 10News previously that mid-block crossings can increase injury risks since drivers may not be as prepared to slow down or stop when a pedestrian appears in the road without crosswalk giving a bit of notice.
“This will not be tolerated,” said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway after watching 10Investigates’ video of officers jaywalking. “There’s no excuse for that...I reiterated it the other day at our command staff meeting.”
Holloway says the message has been delivered to all his officers that safety is important and they will be ticketed for jaywalking if caught. Florida cities are typically among the worst performers nationally for keeping pedestrians safe and SPPD has used grants from USF and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in each of the last two years to fund anti-jaywalking education campaigns and crackdowns.
“Now that we’re educating the public,” Holloway said, “We should be educated law enforcement; we shouldn’t (jaywalk either) because we don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”