Statement by Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Disparity involving Bike Citations
“Each day, the Tampa Police Department works to ensure that our families and our children are kept safe from gun violence, drug-activity, and other types of crime that threaten their well-being, as well as holding the individuals who commit the crimes accountable.
“Equally as important is that we do so in a manner that is reflective of the values and mission that we instill in our officers. Racial profiling is not just illegal, it is unjust and immoral. It is not - and has never been – tolerated in the Tampa Police Department or any city department or division.
“All of our officers are expected to know the zones they patrol. We train them to be deliberate and tactical in fighting the types of crime that plague those areas. In setting our strategy to do so, we consider a variety of factors; however, race is not one of them.
“As the dynamic of crime changes, we continue to adapt and change our ways of policing. Allegations of racial profiling create an emotionally charged discussion within the community, but so does crime, particularly in the neighborhoods that are most affected and for the victims who have suffered it firsthand.
“Toward that end, we recognize the importance of data and technology in our fight against crime and improving our accountability to those we serve. Beginning immediately, TPD will implement a new tracking system to monitor every traffic stop, ticket, and warning issued, including those for cyclists.
“All officers will also be reminded of the appropriate policies and procedures for issuing citations to cyclists.
“Additionally, Chief Castor and I have asked the Department of Justice office of Community Oriented Policing Services to review the program at issue, and they have agreed. Their expertise and objectivity will bring clarity to us and to the community and may help evolve our current strategies. The review will be coordinated by Assistant Chief of Police Eric Ward. Once complete, we will make the report and any recommendations public as well as share it with key stakeholders, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“Chief Jane Castor has led the Tampa Police Department with honor for the past five years, seeing it through some of its darkest days while building new relationships within the community. Working with members of the community, together, we have dramatically lowered crime - success that cities like Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Miami have not had. In fact, while the East Tampa and Sulphur Springs neighborhoods generate nearly one quarter of all 911 calls for service made throughout the city, crime has continued to fall in those neighborhoods over the last 12 years by more than 60%.
“As we transition to new leadership in the coming weeks, the Tampa Police Department will continue to forge a path that builds on our success of fighting crime while strengthening the bonds with every neighborhood in our community.”