Tom Christy sig

My friends: Our city attorney has asked me to remind you that these words are mine — a citizen of Seminole. As such, I would like to thank you for your thoughtful vote of confidence. You have methodically moved away from the old-timers on the council, and with the most recent election you have created a new dynamic, a new majority of recently elected members. We need to continue this trend. Our decisive decision in the November election has prompted many of you to indicate that the outcome was a mandate for change — to go forth, and accomplish the needed changes we set forth in that campaign. 

As such, let us take the need for a study of how we provide police services to our residents. There is no apparent evidence that such a study was ever done in the 50 years that we have been incorporated. So, after the issue was raised that the current contract for policing our city is inadequate, this citizen engaged in a study. The findings were conclusive. 

Many communities have their own police department. Many of those communities are smaller than Seminole, yet employ their own police departments. Some of the concerns expressed were how can we accomplish protecting our residents better, smarter and cheaper? So this humble servant of the people presented just such a plan that has worked for other communities to the City Council, who abdicated responsibility.

The model presented was one that provides a much greater level of protection to our residents. It is a model that provides a proactive approach to policing. It is a model that provides our residents with 13 officers, to detect, deter, and prevent crime. Simply put, this model puts more officers on the street to enforce and protect our residents. To better serve our residents.

The plan also has a component that continues our association with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as needed. All of this with a cost substantially less than the $2 million annually we currently shell out for the contract in place. Upwards of a half-million dollars annually saved, and we have the benefit of our own superior department.

It is difficult to fathom why some on the council would pass on improving services to the residents at far less financial burden. These are the same ones that routinely pontificate the merits that local government can best serve the people. Yet is there greater responsibility than to protect our residents, while executing the responsibility of reducing the financial burden we place on our residents. 

You know it is probably a good thing that kind of arrested thinking was not around in 1776, or we might not currently enjoy this great experiment called America. And likely the same could be said for 1970, when some forward thinkers pushed for incorporation. Of course, we would not be having this discussion, as there would be no city of Seminole.  

So, like our forefathers, who would not be rebuffed, and like the founders of our city, who would not be dissuaded, let us not be deterred as well. 

Contact the folks on the council and tell them to put this matter on a referendum. Let us decide if we want to be better protected. Better served. And receive less of a financial burden on all of us.  

Implementation should be relatively simple. We have many public buildings that can easily accommodate the additional staff. Most likely City Hall. The north side of the building houses mostly fire services, except for three offices and a conference room at the southeast corner.

The three positions that currently occupy that space can be accommodated on the south side of the building. That should work for a staff of 13 officers whose shifts are over a 24/7 work week. Vehicles can be purchased on state bid as we do with fire services. We hire a chief and that person hires the rest of the staff.

Tom Christy is a Seminole City Council member who was elected in November.