St. Pete leaders hold secret summit on crime

9:20 AM, Jun 15, 2011   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - After the city's 11th murder of 2011, matching its entire total from 2010, three of its most powerful leaders called for a secret meeting with Mayor Bill Foster and Police Chief Chuck Harmon.

City Councilman Karl Nurse, County Commissioner Ken Welch, and State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, met with Foster and Harmon for an hour Tuesday to discuss the city's perceived crime problem.

Rouson said either the city's improving crime stats were wrong or Harmon needed to do a better job of handling the negative perception.

After the meeting, Harmon said crime stats were down virtually across the board with the exception of homicides, which could account for the negative perception of the city.

In recent months, 10 News profiled the growing number of youths bragging about gun and gang activity online as well as the high amount of property crime in some areas of St. Petersburg.

Nurse, who called the meeting, said his biggest concern was the number of kids with access to guns.  Harmon said afterward he shared the concern and was focused on ways to get to kids before they turned to crime.

Foster had told 10 News previously that he was committed to getting illegal guns off the street, but Rouson said "perception is reality" if people don't feel safe and behind-the-scenes work isn't helping fast enough.

Welch said he and the others were there to show their support of increasing police presence across the city.

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