Feds: TPD bike citations did not reduce crime

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 05:29:25-04

Bicycling is a common way to get around Sulphur Springs.

“This is a real poor area around here,” resident Henry Neal said. “If you don’t actually have a car, you ride your bicycle.”

The community is reacting to a U.S. Justice Department investigation into Tampa Police Department, including the disparate number of bike related citation given to African Americans between January 2014 and August 2015.

“It affected a lot of people,” Neal said.

The newly released Justice Department report says the citations did not reduce crime. Instead, the TPD tactic had a negative effect on the community.

“There is no justification for these racial disparities and, yes, changes must occur,” said Ojmarrh Mitchell with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The report says the bike stops didn’t appear to be an effort to discriminate against black bicyclists, but it still offers a list of changes since there was a community perception that the department was biased.

“I don’t think it warrants an apology, but I do think it warrants corrective action,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. If there was no discrimination, Sulphur Springs residents like Wanda Shepard still want changes.

"If they're not (discriminating), then they need to fix the situation. There's a reason why so many people are coming out. If there was one or two complaints, we know there's a problem. But too many is just too many,” Shepard said.

You can read the FULL REPORT here.