TPD continues deadly pursuit policy

December 21, 2004

The Tampa Police Department was out in force yesterday, performing one of their feel-good crime sweeps in Tampa Heights, which just happens to be the location of BlogWood international headquarters, just North of downtown Tampa.

A feel-good crime sweep is one in which the police contact the press then enter a depressed neighborhood and arrest residents on outstanding drug and prostitution warrants. Residents feel good because they (mistakenly) think that something meaningful is being done.

Police feel good because they are praised by hoodwinked residents and the gullible press. The press feels good because they have a nice, easy feel-good anti-crime story to run with. The arrested dont feel too bad, because theyre back on the streets a few hours after being processed.

Ive got plenty to say about the wasted resources and efforts involved in these worthless shows for the cameras, and Id love to get into the fact that the police never ever sweep through rich white areas and make arrests for powder cocaine and prescription drug usage and sales, which tend to happen indoors and behind the walls of gated communities, but theres something else I need to touch on instead.

It seems that during the extended on-site press conference police operation, a couple of teenagers in a stolen car happened upon the scene, and, like a group of street level drug peddlers angling for a sale, TPD immediately lurched into action.

See, in Tampa, police have a policy which explicitly allows them to give chase when young, inexperienced drivers are found to be in possession of a stolen vehicle. This policy often results in massive property damage and or loss of life, especially for innocent bystanders, but thats a small price to pay for the protection of our SUVs.

So, the Police quickly jumped into their vehicles and gave chase, careening around small animals and neighborhood kids on Christmas break as they sped through the projects of Robles Park and headed toward downtown.

Then, having reached the downtown area and fearing a bad ending to their aggressive pursuit of a couple of joy riding teens, the police called off their chase.

It seems that its okay for the cops to engage in a high speed pursuit through the residential streets of an area inhabited by the poor and powerless, an area that teems with children and other pedestrians, but once the action reaches a part of town where a wealthier class of folks might be congregating, suddenly TPD is all about caution and public safety.

This is not an isolated event. TPD policy is to chase children in stolen cars until they crash or until they reach an area of town in which the wrong kind of people might get hurt. There is absolutely no good reason to maintain this antiquated and overly aggressive policy. (There are plenty of arguments in favor of chasing non-violent property crime suspects through densely populated areas, just no good arguments.)

Contact Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and ask her to stop our cops from playing Grand Theft Auto on our residential streets. She has the power to single handedly put a stop to this overly aggressive deadly police policy.

Mayor Pam Iorio
City of Tampa, Mayor’s Office
306 East Jackson Street
Tampa, FL 33602

Or send an online message here.

graphic

This was the fatal result of a Tampa Police chase in 2000. Despite massive property damage, injuries, and deaths over the years, TPD continues its aggressive chase policy today.

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