On his 100th day as the chief of police in Florida’s fifth-largest city, Tony Holloway walks in St. Petersburg and smiles. This, he tells the Tampa Bay Times, is the centerpiece of his tenure so far: the park, walk and talk. He introduced it as a way of bolstering community policing. Holloway says hello to passers-by, compliments a bank security officer, pops into an art gallery where he says he always stops. The people ask, “How are you, Chief?” and he replies, “Quite well,” in what might be an understatement. Along the way, Holloway answers a reporter’s questions, rarely straying from the tenets of his well-formed theory on police work. It is easy to call these statements talking points.
“I love the idea of consistency,” said Terri Lipsey Scott, chairwoman of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, where Holloway has talked with community members twice in three months. “For too long we’ve been inundated with different conversations for different communities.” The police union head, who criticized the way Holloway was hired as a “mockery” of the process, said morale is way up. Officers appreciate that Holloway wears a uniform, not a suit, and conducts traffic stops or responds as backup on calls. “We haven’t found anything we don’t like,” Detective Mark Marland said. “The troops love this guy.” Lisa Wheeler-Brown, head of the Council on Neighborhood Associations, has heard nothing but positive feedback. “It’s been like a breath of fresh air,” she said.