My Last Conversation with the late Sgt. Quandt

“People are leaving quicker than they’re coming in,” he told me over breakfast right before the department ended the community policing program. “You have to look within an organization and say why? What is it about our organization that people are walking out the door as fast as they humanly can?”


Quandt felt political pressure from the city’s administration had kept damaging policies in place, from the department’s anti-chase rule to lack of enforcement for trespassing or public intoxication.


“You’re either serious about addressing crime or you’re not,” seemed to be a favorite quote of his.


Our conversations always seemed to turn to the 1996 riots (Quandt was one of the first officers on the scene) and the racial tensions that seem to affect any policy changes within the department.


“There are some things we’re told are untouchable,” he said at the time. “Anything [former police chief and deputy mayor Goliath] Davis has done is untouchable.”


For all his criticism, Quandt was also quick to praise fellow officers and neighborhood associations.


“We have some of the best — bar none — neighborhood organizations I have ever seen,” he said. “They know better than anybody what’s really going on.

This weekend marked another funeral for a local police officer. Sergeant Phil Quandt, a 22-year veteran of the St. Petersburg Police Department and local Fraternal Order of Police chapter representative, died last Monday after being admitted to the hospital for breathing problems. His funeral was Saturday.

He was 45.

Over the past year, I spoke to Quandt numerous times about the troubles inside the St. Petersburg Police Department. He was a fierce critic of Mayor Rick Baker and Chief Chuck Harmon, and respected among many patrol officers I’ve come across. In our last face-to-face conversation, Quandt railed on policies he said were forcing veteran and rookie police officers to leave the force at an astounding rate.

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