According to an article published by the Tampa Bay Times on April 17, in the past three years, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets and 8 out of 10 are to blacks.
A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.
Police Chief Jane Castor disagreed with the local paper and responded in a published statement.
“Officers write the most bike warnings and citations in the areas of the city where they recover the largest number of stolen bikes. This is not a coincidence. Many individuals receiving bike citations are involved in criminal activity,” she wrote.
“Seventy-six percent of our DUI arrests last year were a “disproportionate” number of white males. That does not mean we are targeting white males, it simply means that we are addressing a crime pattern, not a demographic.”
Many are not buying the popular police chief’s reply. Reportedly Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick has called for an investigation into police procedures as they relate to blacks on bikes.
“First, I want to get to the bottom of it,” Reddick said. “Why are they targeting certain African-American communities? The only one that can tell me that is the chief of police,” he said.
Bay area residents are divided on the controversial issue and took to Facebook to voice their opinion.
“Do a ridalong and see first hand. Easy to be judgmental when you read an article full of propaganda and race baiting.”
“If they’re targeting these particular areas and not being consistent across all areas, then yes they’re violating these peoples rights.”
The Amina reached out to the Tampa Police Department for a comment on the pending investigation but has not received a response.
Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, has not responded to the allegations.
Police Chief Jane Castor is set to retire next month.