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Department of Justice releases analysis of Tampa Police Department bicycle stops and ticketing practices

Star For Immediate Release
April 26, 2016

CONTACT: Mary Brandenberger
mary.brandenberger@usdoj.gov
202-598-6624


Department of Justice releases analysis of Tampa Police Department bicycle stops and ticketing practices

TAMPA, Fla. - The Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) today announced the findings of its analysis of the Tampa Police Department’s (TPD) stops and ticketing of bicycle riders.

Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor requested the analysis in May 2015 in response to allegations of racial disparities in stops and ticketing of bicycle riders. The goal of this analysis was to determine whether racial disparities exist in the department’s stops and the issuance of tickets, and provide recommendations to address such disparities if discovered.

“I commend former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor for requesting this analysis. It takes courageous leadership to open yourself and your department to intense scrutiny,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “I’d also like to thank Chief Eric Ward and the men and women of the Tampa Police Department for their full cooperation and commitment to this process. As a result of their efforts, this assessment and process will serve as an example of the benefits of data collection and analysis, and serve as a national model.”

In conducting this assessment, the COPS Office partnered with the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation to review stop and ticketing data, relevant policies and procedures; meet with community members and other stakeholders; and interview police personnel and others in the Tampa community. The key findings of the assessment indicate the following:

1) The data revealed that there were racial disparities in stops and ticketing of bicycle riders by the TPD. In fact, 73% of riders stopped between January 1, 2014 and August 30, 2015 were black and 26% were white, while the estimated population of bicycle riders during the assessment period was 40% black and 49% white.

2) The TPD’s justification for the implementation of this bicycle stop program was not validated by the data. The stops did not reduce crime or result in any measurable impact on public safety in Tampa, nor did the stops result in significant recoveries of stolen bicycles. The bicycle stop program did, however, negatively impact community and police relations.

3) While there were racial disparities in the data uncovered during the assessment, there was no evidence to suggest that the racial disparities were based on discriminatory practices or racial animus by the TPD.

The report also outlines a series of recommendations that will strengthen the department's data collection and analysis capacity and implement strategies to prevent future disparities.

At the request of Chief Ward, the Department of Justice will continue to provide training and technical assistance to help the agency build its capacity to collect and analyze data to better inform their future activities.

The report, An Examination of Racial Disparities in Bicycle Stops and Citations Made by the Tampa Police Department, is available here: 
http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-W0801.

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The Critical Response for Technical Assistance program provides targeted technical assistance to law enforcement agencies dealing with high-profile events, major incidents or sensitive issues of varying need. Its goal is to institutionalize and operationalize community policing as a core fundamental philosophy for law enforcement. It also aims to build community trust through positive community perception of law enforcement legitimacy and fairness.

The COPS Office has deployed the program in jurisdictions including Ferguson, Mo., Detroit, Mich., Seattle, Wash., New Orleans, La., San Diego, Calif., Pasco, Wash., San Bernardino, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., and other cities.

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.

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