Investigation into 12 years of police data demonstrates disparate racial impact; Blacks account for 79% of bicycle citations in Tampa, only a quarter of the city population
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 23, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
TAMPA, FL – A group of civil rights groups and faith leaders are calling on Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the City of Tampa to stop issuing bicycle citations until the program has been reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A recent report by the Tampa Bay Times analyzed 12 years of data on citations for bicycle offenses by the Tampa Police Department, finding that 79% of police citations for bicycle offenses were given to Blacks even though blacks comprise only a quarter of the city’s population (See: tbtim.es/biketickets). Yesterday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stated that he would welcome a review of the program by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing.
A letter sent today to Mayor Buckhorn by several local, state, and national faith leaders and civil rights groups called on the mayor to end the program of bicycle offense enforcement until the DOJ’s review is complete and to make addressing racial disparities in policing a priority for the incoming police chief.
“While we applaud the Mayor’s decision to ask the U.S. Dept. of Justice for an independent analysis of the impact of the police bicycle stop program that has taken place largely in minority communities, we are calling on the city to suspend that program immediately,” stated Joyce Hamilton Henry, Director of Advocacy for the ACLU of Florida. “Until there is a thorough analysis of the impact of the program on the constitutional rights of the people of Tampa as well as the costs of the program, which includes community distrust and alienation from the police, and the number of young black males who now needlessly have a criminal record, these citations must stop.”
The letter sent to Mayor Buckhorn also called for collection of data on police-civilian encounters to ensure that individuals’ constitutional rights are being respected in interactions with Tampa Police, and requests a meeting with the mayor and incoming police chief to discuss the issues raised in the investigation. From the letter:
“While the data is disturbing, we hope that you see its publication as an opportunity for your office and the incoming Chief of Police to work in partnership with us to begin to proactively address the experiences and perception of the community regarding law enforcement and Tampa Police Department.
“To that end, we ask that you make reducing racial disparities a priority for your office and the incoming Chief of Police and end the program of bicycle offense enforcement until a review of the program has been completed by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing. “
The letter is signed by: ACLU’s Racial Justice Program; ACLU of Florida; ACLU of Florida Greater Tampa Chapter; Amnesty International USA, Tampa Bay; CAIR Florida; Dream Defenders; LatinoJustice PRLDEF; LULAC of Florida; Mi Familia Vota; Rev. Dr. Russell Myer of St. Paul Lutheran Church; NAACP, Hillsborough Branch; Pastors on Patrol; Rainbow-PUSH Florida; and Tampa Bay Academy of Hope, Inc. A copy of the letter is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/letter-to-tampa-mayor-bob-buckhorn-calling-for-end-to-bicycle-stops/
The ACLU of Florida has published the following guide for what to do if stopped by police: http://aclufl.org/resources/what-to-do-if-youre-stopped-by-police/
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