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Mayor: Downtown Pensacola Security, the Port and Gov. Inauguration

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Security in downtown Pensacola was one of Mayor Grover Robinson’s topics in his Monday morning briefing at City Hall, along with the Port of Pensacola and the gubernatorial inauguration.

Twenty-nine-year old Kyle Terry faces 10 charges, including aggravated assault, robbery and carjacking, after a number of incidents Friday night in downtown Pensacola. Police say Terry held a woman at gunpoint; demanded her car keys, then fired a pistol in the Palafox Place area. There were no serious injuries reported.

I want to thank the Pensacola police,” said Robinson. “A lot of things could have happened [and] I’m glad they didn’t. They moved swiftly to get that person into custody.”

Mayor Robinson said there’s no doubt that more of a police presence is needed in those areas, but for now, the issue is manpower – getting a full staffing level of 152 sworn officers.

“And we’ll actually need a couple more than that, because we’ll need some additional supervisory [personnel],” said Robinson. “I talked to Chief [Tommy] Leiter over the weekend; while we were talking this incident on Friday and he assured me that this is part of where he’s trying to get to as he staffs up.”

Help appears to be on the way. The next police academy class forms next month, and the hope is when they graduate in May, the Police Department will be at or near full numbers. Plus, there’s an ongoing discussion about partnering with downtown businesses in setting up security cameras – with one apartment complex already ahead of the curve.

Credit wuwf.org

“When it comes to actually private buildings, Southtowne [Apartments] is putting out their private cameras  We just don’t have enough people to be every single place; we’re trying to be more present but surveillance certainly does allow for us to do that,” said Robinson. “The city is certainly looking at things like the Jefferson Street Parking Deck that are city assets.”

Another issue expected to be front and center in 2019 is what to do with the Port of Pensacola.

“I made that very clear, when I met with [Director] Amy [Miller] and took the tour over there; I want the Port to be there, I want it to be successful, I want it to generate revenue and create jobs,” said the Mayor. “But I want it to do whatever it does to be compatible with what we’ve done downtown.”

A study of the port by the California-based firm Moffatt & Nichol is due out in the next few weeks. Robinson says he and Miller will sit down and go through it.

“The one thing that’s clear is the desire to have a port,” said Robinson. “And the thing I’ve told Amy [include]: I think we’re a ‘niche port,’ and I think the study will confirm that we’re going to probably going to be a ‘niche port.’ And we just need to find those niches that make the best sense for us.”

Credit wuwf.org
Port of Pensacola.

Robinson will not be attending the inauguration of Ron DeSantis as Florida’s 46th governor on Tuesday, citing a full transitional workload. But he is looking forward to his new administration working with the new administration in Tallahassee.

“We will be going over there in late January,” the Mayor said. “I think a lot of is much like us; they’re going to be settling in. Our first month here we were all over the place but I think we’re getting more settled. So no doubt the first month for them is going to be a little bit crazy as well.”

Mayor Grover Robinson will kick off a series of town hall meetings on Thursday, January 24 at the Woodland Heights Resource Center on Berkley Drive. The doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.