'Broken Windows' Policy Targets Bikes—and Race—in Tampa

An in-depth investigation by the Tampa Bay Times reveals that Blacks on bikes are targeted by police as indicators of larger crimes.
April 20, 2015, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"In the past three years, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined," reports Alexandra Zayas and Kameel Stanley. The tickets are part of a kind of "broken windows policy" to bike safety, but there's a catch, according to Zayas and Stanley: eight out of 10 violators are black.

"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.

Beyond the dubiousness of a "broken windows policy" as a bike safety measure and not a bike use deterrent, Zayas and Stanley also note the larger legal implications the measure opens up:

Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn't just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.

The article includes specific examples of some of the violations, a defense of the policy from Police Chief Jane Castor, and a map showing where in the city the most tickets had been issued in 2014. It's an in-depth feature, so stick around to the end.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, April 17, 2015 in Tamps Bay Times
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