Charles “Chuck” Harmon
Chief of Police
St Petersburg Police Department
RE: Report Number 2008-021038
Dear Chief Harmon,
I am writing to you in the hope that you can execute a change in the handling of calls for service regarding violent crimes against animals.
We, unfortunately, had such a crime happen in our own front yard on April 12th in the middle of the day. It was widely reported in the media, and we even have a web site set up about the issue. ( www.WhoKilledAmy.com )
A man brutally beat our beloved cat, Amy, with a stick and left her for dead. My husband found her minutes later on the sidewalk fighting for her life, but she died the next day. We are especially devastated by her death because of the violence of it. No animal should have to suffer such an act of cruelty, and we are doing everything in our power to see that she receives some justice, and to prevent this type of crime happening again to an animal or a person.
However, there were what we consider were some serious errors in how the case was first handled by the police phone operators.
In our case, there were two witnesses who saw this man beating our cat. They yelled at him to stop, and he then threatened them as well. Fearing for their safety, they left the area but immediately were dialing 911 on their cell phone.
The witnesses said that they were re-routed to non-emergency and were then interrogated for quite a while before then being told to call animal control.
A patrol car never showed up, and a perusal of the calls for service on that day shows that the call WAS NEVER EVEN LOGGED. So, instead of the offender possibly being caught on the day, he was allowed to escape. The witnesses say he had a small dog on a leash with him so he couldn’t have moved too quickly. That failure to act appropriately has meant a greater investigative load on your department, as well as requiring us to pound the pavement for the past month, knocking on doors and posting flyers, trying to find the person responsible. The above report number refers the call that I put in on the Monday after the attack.
We cannot help but think that if the call had been handled as an emergency or even a non emergency (our home is less than a mile from the police station), then this person would have been apprehended and we could start having some closure in our lives. If the non-emergency operator had at least treated the call seriously, then we would be a lot further advanced then we are now. There were only a handful of calls for service between Noon and 1 PM that day, less than ten, so I am sure it was not an issue of available officers.
It wonâ€™t bring back our Amy, but maybe we could have started sleeping at night knowing that this man, who could do such a heinous thing, was off the streets and unable to hurt another helpless creature or person. I can only imagine who he will go after next. As it is, all our free time is spent in trying to track down this man to give Amy the justice she deserves.
I hope after reading this letter you will see how a change in policy would benefit both the police department and the victims of violent crime.
We would like to commend Officers Roeser and Westerman for all their hard work and open communication with us on what is happening in the investigation. They have been very professional and attentive and have treated us and the case with the utmost consideration. Never having had a violent crime happen to us before we were extremely overwhelmed in the beginning and have appreciated all their efforts on our behalf.
We have been contacted by Jen Hobgood, at the Humane Society of the US South Eastern Office in Sarasota. The HSUS is willing to offer a $2,500 additional reward. However, they do want to speak to law enforcement before offering and publicizing the reward. Unfortunately, they have been unable to get a response from the St Petersburg Police Department. Perhaps you could contact Ms. Hobgood about this matter? You can reach her on PHONE NUMBERS REMOVED.
It has been shown that violence against animals is a gateway crime to violence against humans, and we hope this letter may have some influence in helping future victims. As you are probably aware, the accused in the recent triple murderer in Lutz had been investigated for multiple counts of cat killing in the recent past. This is possible scenario here as well.
Thank you for your time and attention and we look forward to your response.