Tampa has been notified that it is under federal investigation at the end of 2021. The city council just found out
Members of the Tampa City Council expressed frustration Thursday over the ongoing communication breakdowns between council members and Mayor Jane Castor’s administration.
“We all found out Friday at a press conference held by the mayor that the city was the subject of the second Department of Justice civil rights investigation in seven years,” a council member said. Bill Carlson mentioned. “And it started in December.”
Castor’s chief of staff John Bennett said the city “informed everyone” as soon as they were notified. But Carlson said he and other city council members only found out about it in a news release sent out after the press conference.
“I find that really offensive as an elected official,” Carlson told Bennett.
According to published documents by the City of Tampa, the U.S. Department of Justice notified the city that he was under federal investigation via a December 21 letter. The city received the letter the next day.
The investigation was launched to see if Tampa’s Crime-Free Housing Program violated fair housing law by denying access or creating separate terms to certain applicants or tenants. Beaver implemented the Crime-Free Multi Housing program in 2013 when she was Chief of Police. It was supposed to help keep violent crime, drugs and gang activity out of rental properties.
But one Tampa Bay Times investigation found police notified landlords of petty crimes, such as shoplifting or driving with a suspended license, and provided lease endorsements that allowed tenants to be evicted. This led to hundreds of evictions. In many cases, the offenders were never convicted of the crimes; were juvenile residents of a home; or were guests of a household. Regardless of conviction or being a tenant, landlords were empowered to evict any tenant associated with an arrest.
And the arrests have had a disproportionate impact on the black community. The Times investigation found that “90% of the 1,100 people reported by the program were black, according to police records. This is despite the fact that black residents make up only 54% of all arrests in Tampa over the past eight years. »
In one case, a 16-year-old boy was arrested for stealing change from cars and was later released from juvenile detention without charge. But his family’s landlord was notified and they lost their Robles Park Village home.
The city said it ended the program in December. It was renamed Safety Awareness for All, or SAFEwithout reporting offenses to owners.
“The bottom line is that the City of Tampa firmly believes that every resident, regardless of income level or address, deserves to feel safe, and partnerships like SAFE help prevent crime,” Castor said. last week. “No major city in Florida has a lower crime rate than Tampa, and we will never stop standing up for victims of crime, including residents who are victims of criminal activity in their neighborhoods.”
The DOJ has not released the results of its investigation.
Seven years ago, another Times investigation led to a DOJ investigation that uncovered the so-called “ride a bike in blackThe initiative led to black cyclists being stopped and ticketed at rates that far exceeded their white counterparts, with no measurable impact on crime in the city.