The Tampa Bay Times reports that “specific allegations of impropriety” were behind an unusual decision by a St. Petersburg deputy mayor to halt police department promotions scheduled for this month. The department has been roiled by tension between white and black officers as St. Petersburg conducts a search to replace Chief Charles Harmon, who retired. Five weeks ago, officers, community leaders and city officials gathered at a church to discuss the racial tensions. Soon after, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin stopped the promotions.
Speaking for the first time about police department intrigue that has become the subject of gossip in St. Petersburg, Tomalin said she made the move because she had learned that select officers had access to tests or test answers and that some received help during the testing. She said the allegations “absolutely required investigation.” She added, “Our sole motivation in all of this is to create a unified force.” The city is expected to hire a new chief this summer.