The U.S. Justice Department will release its report today on apparent racial disparities in the Tampa Police Department’s issuance of bicycle citations.
Officials have scheduled a news conference for the release of the report, which was requested a year ago by Mayor Bob Buckhorn and then-Police Chief Jane Castor in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times report that black bicyclists were issued citations at a vastly higher rate than the rest of the population.
The department issued 544 bike citations in 2014, records show. Of those, 443 — or about 81 percent — were given to blacks.
African-Americans make up slightly more than a quarter of the city’s population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
Court records show that the percentage of bike citations given to blacks has been largely consistent over the past decade, with blacks being cited disproportionately more than their population.
Buckhorn, U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley and Police Chief Eric Ward, who succeeded Castor, are scheduled to attend the news conference.
Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty said Monday that the chief didn’t know what was in the report, but that officials “would not be surprised if they said there is a discrepancy, now why is that?”
Hegarty said the Justice Department is “making it very clear to us that they’re going to have recommendations.”
Justice officials “asked for data in lots of different ways,” Hegarty said.
He noted the number of bicycle citations dropped precipitously about a year ago, right after the reports first surfaced about racial disparities.