FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- May 21, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
TAMPA, FL – This morning the Tampa City Council confirmed Eric Ward as Chief of Police. Right after his confirmation, the ACLU requested a meeting with Chief Ward to discuss the recent evidence of racial disparities in bicycle stops in Tampa.
Last month the Tampa Bay Times reported that black people are being racially profiled and over-policed by law enforcement in Tampa. The paper analyzed twelve years of data on bicycle citations and discovered that of the 10,000 bicycle tickets issued by Tampa Police, 79% were given to blacks—even though they comprise only a quarter of the city’s population. The investigation also revealed that in 2014, bicycle citations were concentrated in Tampa’s poor, black neighborhoods.
While the Tampa Police Department has agreed to let the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) review its program, neither the police nor COPS have made clear whether the review will include an investigation into racial profiling and civil rights violations.
In response to the confirmation Joyce Hamilton Henry, Director of Advocacy for the ACLU of Florida stated:
“While we congratulate Eric Ward on his confirmation, we continue to be worried about the implementation of bicycle citations.”
“Now that Chief Ward has officially begun his role, we’re glad that he has expressed interest in meeting with civil rights groups and faith leaders to discuss the bike citations and other related issues in policing in order to make our community safer for all of its members.”
The ACLU alongside community leaders in Tampa will continue to push for a suspension of bicycle stops until a full investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to ensure that police engagement is being done properly, that it is not over reaching and having an adverse negative affect on Tampa’s young, black community in a way that is unjust, unfair, or unequal.
For more information on Tampa bicycle citations visit: https://aclufl.org/2015/04/20/riding-while-black-in-tampa/