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WTSP: TPD, Bob Buckhorn say no need for further review on race arrest rates

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

After calling for federal review of police practices in vehicle and bicycle code enforcement, both Tampa police and Mayor Bob Buckhorn insist there is no need to further expand an upcoming Justice Department investigation.

This is despite a WTSP-TV report showing the Tampa Police Department arrested more blacks than any other law enforcement agency on Florida.

According to reporter Noah Pransky, the TPD cites a “zero-tolerance” crime policy for its elevated arrest rates, and a correspondingly high arrest rate of non-black citizens:


In Tampa, like many other large cities, black residents commit a disproportionate amount of crime, according to agency statistics. An agency spokesperson says it explains why 54% of the city’s arrests are of African-Americans, even though they make up just 26% of the city’s population. TPD also points to a fast-falling crime rate – down 72% since 2002 – as proof of performance.

But the police have had such an intense focus on high-crime areas that in 2013, they made 241 arrests for every 1,000 black residents in the city. That included their focus on bicycle stops, which will soon be reviewed by the Department of Justice.

Excluded in the DOJ review, Pransky notes, is an examination of overall arrest rates, as well as the agency policy that allocates resources to combat crime.

“What the police department needs to do is review their policies,” City Council Chair Frank Reddick told WTSP. Reddick is Tampa’s only black council member.

“The numbers don’t lie. They need to do this as soon as possible.”

Although a spokesperson for the TPD says statistics fail to show the “the full picture,” Pransky points out that the police do not seem to have a full picture either, since there has never been an official analysis of arrest or citation rates broken down by race:

TPD says it has set the state standard for crime-fighting, clearing 33% of its cases and dropping its crime rate to just 3,150 crimes per 100,000 residents. Both numbers are superior to the stats TPD provided for their counterparts in Miami, Orlando, and St. Petersburg.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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