Officer investigated for speaking his mind on St. Pete crime | News
UPDATE 7/1/11: Mayor Bill Foster says Officer Thad "Stu" Crisco will not be disciplined and SPPD was only looking into the incident because it was brought to their attention. A statement from SPPD said, "although no action has been taken at this time, Officer Crisco faces - at the most - a Memorandum of Counseling (not a "suspension"), which is considered an informal, instructional document...that would caution him against making comments in the future that are either factually incorrect or could otherwise be misunderstood by the general public."
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - A veteran officer with a clean record is being investigated by the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) after he warned the father of a robbery victim about a dangerous part of town.
Officer Thad "Stu" Crisco, who was recently in headlines for honoring his fallen partner David Crawford, allegedly warned St. Petersburg father Bob Esposito about letting his 16-year-old daughter hang around the Northshore Pool at night. Esposito's daughter was one of five teens robbed by a group of armed men there about 10:30 p.m. on a recent weeknight.
"I wouldn't come down here at night," Esposito said of the Northshore Pool area and Downtown, where he admits he used to loiter as a teen. "And I was told by one of the police officers not to come down here either."
That comment, made by Crisco the night of the robbery, was inadvertently relayed to his superior when Esposito was following up with SPPD. The department then launched an investigation into "disparaging comments against the city."
"I'm shocked," Esposito said. "His job is to serve and protect, and as far as I'm concerned, he gave me information. I think he did his job. I think he did it very well."
Esposito said Crisco cited the city's violent crime stats - the worst in the state. He faces a possible suspension, even if his comments were true, although his exemplary record with SPPD could help him avoid serious discipline.
Mayor Bill Foster acknowledged the incident and said he holds SPPD to the highest standard.
"I always want to know my officers are representing this city in a very positive light," Foster said.
While St. Petersburg's violent crime stats are high (more than 1% of residents will be a victim in any given year), the numbers have dropped every year since 2007.
"(SPPD) is performing at a very high level," Foster said. "Do I tout statistics when I'm out in the public? No, because we have too many victims."
Through the first five months of 2011, the city has seen a drop in every single crime stat except murder. Earlier this month, following a secret summit on crime, Chief Chuck Harmon admitted his biggest concern was youths with guns.
Violent crimes per 100 residents, 2010:
|West Palm Beach||0.78|
|Port St. Lucie||0.24|
Source: FBI UCR stats
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