Inverness, St. Pete Beach share experiences of disbanding city police

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018, 8:49 PM EDT

While the decision by Brooksville city leaders to dissolve the city's police department has drawn mixed reaction from residents, they're not the first city in the region to do so.

  • Inverness dissolved city police several years ago
  • St. Pete Beach dissolved police force in 2012
  • Brooksville now considering dissolving fire department

The city of Inverness decided to dissolve their city police department several years ago, and is now under contract with the Citrus County Sheriff's Office. City leaders say while it hasn't always been easy, they do feel it was the right move for the city.

"We worked with the Sheriff's department on the needs of the city, understanding them. They, in turn, were very willing to work with us and we've kept a very forward progressive relationship that requires constant management constant upkeep by both sides," Inverness City Manager Frank DiGiovanni said.

For the city of Inverness, the main motivation for dissolving the city police wasn't funding. Rather, it was resources -- resources the sheriff's office had that the city police didn't.

DiGiovanni said residents weren't very open to the idea of losing the department.

"It took us a while," he explained. "We went on a speaking campaign, the Sheriff and myself, visited every homeowners association in the city, made sure we made a presentation to them, answered their questions and broke down perceived fears that weren't necessarily real, they were assumptions and it began a process of this being rolled out positively."

St. Pete Beach also voted to disband their police department in 2012. City leaders say it saved nearly ten percent of their budget, and they say the money has gone to good use.

"We've been doing a lot of infrastructure projects: roads, sewers primarily those are the most expensive projects we're doing. We're still on a long term maybe a five-to-ten-year plan to get caught up," St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the future of the Brooksville fire department is now in question, with the council looking at options for the county to take over that, too.

Both St. Pete Beach and Inverness still have their own city fire departments. Inverness just created their current department two years ago.

"We were able to do our calculations and start our fire department at less financial impact here than if we maintained a regional presence," DiGiovanni said.

Currently, the cost of the Brooksville Police Department takes up about a third of the budget for the city of Brooksville.