TAMPA, FLORIDA: A NICE PLACE TO VISIT, BUT.........
ON SECOND THOUGHT, GIVEN THE RECORD OF TAMPA'S COPS (and politicians), WE ADVISE YOU NOT TO VISIT
The decent, law-abiding citizens of Tampa have been placed under siege by their own police force. Among other offenses, local cops are known to have concealed citizen complaints filed against fellow officers; falsified official police records; negligently discharged firearms (causing serious injury to innocent bystanders); engaged in sex with prostitutes while on duty; committed perjury, etc., etc., etc..
But that's not the worst of it. In addition to such run-of-the-mill misconduct, malfeasance, and incompetence, the Tampa PD, in cahoots with Tampa's arrogant political establishment, is enforcing a city ordinance that has been ruled unconstitutional. Evidently, the City Council and the Police Department simply have no regard for the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the 1st Amendment.
Uphold the Law of the Land and Defend the Constitution? Forget about it-- if any Tampa cops ever swore such an oath, it seems that they've long since broken their word. Their primary function now is to enforce every idle whim of the city council. It's "Sieg Heil", as they march off to fulfill their orders.
The targets of this unconstitutional pogrom are among the most powerless, marginalized, and defenseless members of society. Who better for publicity-seeking politicians to pick on than topless dancers? The tactic is guaranteed to garner widespread media attention, and gain the politicians increased name-familiarity among the electorate. It's a very sordid and coldly calculating scheme.
If, after reading the stories below, you would like to express your concern regarding the deplorable condition of law-enforcement in the city of Tampa, visit the website of Bob Buckhorn, the Tampa City Councilman who is spearheading this oppressive campaign.
”Less than a week after two dancers were convicted of violating the city's lap dance ban, a Hillsborough County Court judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional.
”The ruling is a stinging defeat for the city in its continuing fight to curb Tampa's adult entertainment industry. Industry folks, however, had always maintained the ordinance was illegal.
”Hillsborough County Judge Elvin Martinez said the so-called 6-foot rule is unconstitutional ‘on the grounds that it is over broad, and on the grounds that the city's stated purpose for enacting the ordinance is not furthered by the ordinance.’"
An unfeeling, irrational cop deludes himself into thinking he’s doing the right thing by arresting a hard-working woman. It never occurs to this upstanding “hero in blue” that this poor woman’s children will probably suffer unnecessary trauma and privations as a result of their mother’s politically-motivated arrest.
”Hillsborough County Judge Elvin Martinez dismissed all lap dancing cases that were pending in his court. The cases involved defendants with last names beginning with the letters C, I, K, R and T, which is how cases are assigned to his courtroom.
”In an order signed Tuesday, Martinez declared the ordinance unconstitutional and ‘unpractical,’ saying it is too broad and allows selective enforcement. He also said lap dancing does not put public health or safety at risk.
”‘Statutes or ordinances cannot be so overbroad that they prohibit constitutionally protected conduct as well as unprotected conduct,’ wrote Martinez, a former longtime legislator. ‘They also cannot be so overbroad they make common conduct criminal and provide the police with unfettered discretion to arrest.’ ***
”The four-page opinion adds further confusion to the lap dance issue. Prosecutors say they will appeal the ruling to Hillsborough Circuit Court. Meanwhile, appeals already are under way incases in which other judges ruled the ordinance constitutional. And two dancers convicted last week are expected to appeal. Tampa police say they will continue to make arrests.
”Martinez found that the ordinance results in arbitrary enforcement because the city acknowledges that an innocent bystander, such as a soda vendor making a delivery, would not be guilty if he or she got within 6 feet of a nude dancer.
”The judge also found practical problems with the ordinance, ‘considering the realities of movement’ inside a strip club. For example, someone could be guilty for passing by an unclothed person on the way to the restroom.
”Furthermore, he said, the city failed to prove that the ordinance ‘furthers a substantial government interest.’
”The city's evidence does not show that the use of adult establishments in Tampa causes an increase in criminal activity or poses a health risk, Martinez found.
”Prosecutors, however, believe the ordinance is sound.
”’Lap dancing has never been a constitutionally protected act - it's as simple as that,’ said Assistant State Attorney Richard Leal, chief of the misdemeanor division. ‘It doesn't involve speech.’
”But if defense attorneys have their druthers, three other misdemeanor judges who handle cases involving defendants whose names begin with other letters will follow suit.
”Lawyer Mark Rodriguez, one of six attorneys who filed the original motion to dismiss the charges against their clients, said he plans to file another motion this week, asking the other judges to issue stays in their cases until Martinez's order is appealed.
”The move is needed so that ‘no more women and customers are wrongly convicted,’ he said.
Even though the law under which this woman is being arrested was declared unconstitutional, the cop doesn’t hesitate for a moment in following the orders he’s been given.
EDITORIAL FROM THE "ST. PETERSBURG TIMES" REGARDING TAMPA'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL ADULT-ENTERTAINMENT ORDINANCE.
”The fog has begun to lift in Tampa's lap dancing war. In customarily blunt fashion, Hillsborough County Judge Elvin Martinez has dismissed all lap dancing cases pending in his court, finding the ban unconstitutional and a recipe for government abuse. The city should halt any further enforcement until higher courts clarify the matter.
”No other official in Tampa has had the guts to call the six-foot ban between dancers and clients what it is: a cheap political ploy that tramples the rights of consenting adults under the masquerade of public safety.
”Martinez pointed out that the law makes a criminal of anyone within six feet of a naked person in a dance club. Patrons walking to the restroom, or vendors delivering soft drinks to a club, are subject to arrest. The judge was not comforted by the city's argument that it targets only dancers and patrons.
”’This selective enforcement,’ he wrote, in a four-page ruling, ‘provides the police with unfettered discretion to arrest.’ The local law is so broad, the judge found, it threatens to punish "dancers and patrons who are engaging in otherwise constitutionally protected First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association.’
”Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and the city council pooh-poohed those concerns when they sought to make headlines in 1999. So transparent were their motives, the city didn't even bother to prove that lap dancing caused harm to society by spreading disease or increasing prostitution. "The findings," Martinez wrote, "must not be based upon evidence that simply allows the government to speculate that secondary effects exist."
”Martinez dismissed charges for nearly three dozen defendants who were lucky enough to have their cases assigned to his court. But hundreds more in Hillsborough are awaiting trial. [Isn’t there a huge “Equal Protection” issue here?] Given the constitutional issues involved, and the disparate way the various judges are handling the same types of cases, the city, in all fairness, should refrain from making further arrests. It would show bad faith with Martinez's ruling, and could increase the city's liability should the ban be rejected by the higher courts. Tampa police, after all, have plenty to do. This isn't Mayberry. Society won't collapse if cops leave the nude bars and patrol our streets.”
Bob Buckhorn, a pathologically ambitious city councilman with delusions of attaining the office of Mayor, callously uses these women as stepping-stones to further his political career.
TAMPA PD CONCEALS INTERNAL AFFAIRS DOCUMENTS: CITIZENS' COMPLAINTS AGAINST POLICE OFFICERS ARE PLACED IN A SECRET FILE THAT IS VIRTUALLY INACCESIBLE.
“…people who ask the Tampa police Internal Affairs unit for investigation files on a particular officer are not shown the A-File unless they know to ask for it by name.
“Some defense attorneys and advocates for open government are calling the A-File an easy way for the Tampa Police Department to hide dirty laundry. Critics say the fact that so few people have seen the file, which is kept separately in the Internal Affairs unit, because they didn't know to ask for it calls into question whether the agency can be trusted to police itself.
“Attorney Frederick Mann said he asked for all Internal Affairs investigations on a former officer who shot his client's son to death. The city gave him 19 cases, Mann said. However, Mann said he later learned that he never saw a case in which the same officer was investigated for hitting a prostitution suspect so severely that she ended up in a hospital emergency room. That case was kept in the A-File.
“‘If you're Joe Citizen, and you've been beaten or man-handled by a policeman and you want to find out what kind of record he has, you want to get everything,’ Mann said.
“‘I assumed I got everything’ from Tampa police, said Brian Donerly, a criminal defense attorney and a former assistant public defender in Hillsborough County for 14 years. ‘I didn't know there was something they automatically hold back.’”
”In preparing for trial, [Attorney] Mann said, he asked the Police Department for all Internal Affairs investigations on [Officer] Slatton. However, he said he was never given records that showed Slatton was accused of severely beating and injuring a prostitution suspect three years before he [fatally shot Mann’s client’s son] Sexton.
”That record was in a little-known drawer called the A-File, where the department's Internal Affairs bureau keeps some residents' complaints against officers. A Times report last week revealed that people are not shown the A-File, which is a public record under Florida law, unless they know to ask for it by name.”
”The disclosure that Tampa police maintain a trap-door file on citizen complaints is even more alarming. Complaints in the A-File, as the list is called, are kept separate from Internal Affairs files on particular officers. That creates a black hole for abusive and unprofessional cops. It is also a sneaky way to undercut public control.
“The ramifications go far beyond a single meeting, or a single file. Commissioner Ed Turanchik said the closed meetings helped prevent him from saying something stupid in public. Police Chief Bennie Holder offered a similarly lame excuse. ‘I'm not stupid,’ the chief told Times reporter Katherine Shaver. ‘If I wanted to skirt the public records law, I wouldn't put things in writing.’ Good Lord.”
INNOCENT MAN, WATCHING TV IN HIS HOUSE WITH HIS 2-YEAR-OLD SON, IS "ACCIDENTALLY" SHOT IN THE BACK BY TAMPA COPS. SETTLES SUIT AGAINST CITY OF TAMPA FOR $30,000.00. This was not an “accident”- the cops INTENTIONALLY fired their guns at his house. This is inexcusable negligence and incompetence.
“Gordon, a career U.S. Army sergeant, was in the living room of his Gandy Gardens home on June 9, 1998, when a hail of bullets was fired by police at Michael Lentz, a teenager who armed himself after suffering a mental breakdown and fleeing to Gordon's south Tampa neighborhood.
“Eight officers fired a total of 53 rounds at Lentz as he brandished a gun behind Gordon's home at 4701 W Wyoming Avenue, reports show. The 17-year-old, reported to be suicidal after being released from Charter Manatee Palms Hospital, was struck seven times.
“As the gunfire started, Gordon, now 41, covered his son, Cameron, with his own body to keep the toddler from being hit. A total of 13 rounds fired by police hit Gordon's home, including one which lodged in his back.
“Gordon was treated at Tampa General Hospital and released a day later. Wardell said Gordon escaped a crippling injury by a half-inch, the distance the bullet that ripped into him missed his spinal cord.”
TAMPA COP ALLEGEDLY FALSIFIES REPORT; TAKES THE 5TH IN MURDER INVESTIGATION, THEREBY ALLOWING MURDER SUSPECT TO AVOID CONVICTION.
”[Officer] Delgado is accused of falsifying the report after the police cruiser she was driving July 1 collided with a suspect's car. She claimed the suspect had backed into her cruiser. Several Tampa police officers, including Delgado's partner, claimed Delgado had slid the cruiser into the suspect's car.
”No one was seriously hurt, but the fender-bender triggered a controversy that derailed Delgado's 10-year police career and helped undermine an unrelated first-degree murder trial.
”Because of a pending internal affairs investigation surrounding the crash, Delgado claimed her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination last year and refused to testify during the murder trial. The decision caused a mistrial.”
TAMPA COP RESIGNS AFTER ADMITTING HE HAD SEX WITH A PROSTITUTE WHILE ON DUTY. DA claims there’s insufficient evidence to prosecute, EVEN THOUGH the cop ADMITTED to the illicit conduct, and the prostitute, a POLICE INFORMANT, whose testimony is presumably adequate to convict any other john, stated that the cop purchased her sexual services. Why wasn’t the cop prosecuted? It’s merely yet another example of prosecutorial bias in favor of cops. Typically, such decisions are a proactive quid pro quo arrangement-- the DA helps out the cops by granting them virtual immunity from prosecution, and the cops help out the DA by providing “helpful” testimony (i.e. perjury) throughout their careers. (See our Crucial Reforms section for further details on this all-too-common problem).
"’If he hadn't resigned, he was looking at discipline ranging from a reprimand up to dismissal,’ said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.
“In November 1999, a woman who is a convicted prostitute and an informer for Tampa police told investigators that Reagan met her while on patrol at Tampa Presbyterian Village. [Officer] Reagan, 32, worked an extra-duty patrol in full uniform and marked patrol car at the complex, near downtown. The woman said Reagan gave her $20 to give him oral sex, which she later did at her home on E 28th Avenue.
“As soon as the allegations came to light, an Internal Affairs investigation began, Durkin said. The investigation continued into this year. Meanwhile, Reagan continued to train other officers and receive favorable evaluations for his work.
“On Aug. 29, Reagan admitted having sex with the woman and resigned a few days later.
”The case was turned over to the State Attorney's Office, which did not find enough evidence to charge Reagan or the prostitute criminally.”
TAMPA COP RESIGNS AND IS CHARGED WITH PERJURY AND PETTY THEFT. FORMER COLLEAGUES ON THE POLICE FORCE SHIELD HER FROM ADVERSE PUBLICITY, PERHAPS BECAUSE SHE USED TO BE MARRIED TO CHIEF’S MAIN SGT.
”[TPD Spokesman] Hughes said [disgraced ex-officer] Gary, who had been an officer in the District I office, resigned quietly in December in the midst of an internal affairs investigation. That investigation is still under way, and Hughes won't talk about it.
"’Even when an officer resigns, they are still required to complete the administrative investigation,’ Hughes said. (By the way, didn't police Chief Bennie Holder defend dropping the investigation into former Deputy Chief Ken Taylor because he retired? Just wondering.)
“So why didn't TPD say anything about the arrest? (The St. Petersburg Times got an anonymous tip.).
"’As far as we are concerned, she is a citizen,’ Hughes said. ‘There's no reason for us to publicize the minor arrest of a citizen. [Oh really? Then why do so many PD’s issue press releases with the names and photographs of accused johns?] If she was active duty, we would have written something about it.’
“Surely TPD's silence had nothing to do with the fact Gary used to be married to Sgt. John Bennett, executive officer and right-hand man to Chief Bennie Holder.”
Do you know of any other problems with the Tampa Police Department or the Tampa political establishment? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Please submit your stories HERE.
Help copwatch fight police brutality. Bad cops must be prosecuted. Police corruption is a major problem - copwatch will root it out. Dirty cops threaten the criminal justice system. Police misconduct is an epidemic. Police abuse innocent citizens all too often. Police harassment is a frequent occurrence. The blue wall of silence protects bad cops, and police culture must be reformed. Deviant cops must be fired. Police deviance cannot be tolerated. Last year saw a bad cop arrested for rape, a dirty cop charged with extortion, police corruption involving drug distribution, a criminal cop jailed for brutality, a disgraced police chief sentenced for domestic abuse, a convicted sheriff guilty of theft, moonlighting police disciplined for misconduct, convicted cops fired for sexual assault, a guilty cop suspended for harassment, a discredited cop charged with perjury, and a law enforcement officer suspended from duty for being on the take. Police corruption is common across the country. Such activities are a disgrace to the badge, and dishonor the uniform, so the offending cop was forced to turn in his badge. Subsequent reports revealed a state patrol officer investigated for arson, a highway patrol officer indicted for fraud, a state trooper jailed for assault, a top cop ousted for brandishing his weapon, a Police Sgt. fired for bribery, (while another Police Sergeant quit the force), a Police Lt. pressured to resign (the Lieutenant is accused of murder), child-molesting police, and a Police Commander crashed his squad car in a high speed pursuit. The police department engaged in a coverup to hide evidence of misconduct, refusing to release relevant public records and public documents, despite the open records law and the submission of a public disclosure request. Finally, Serpico breaks ranks. As the bad cops close ranks, good police put their lives on the line, while an overzealous county mounty (or mountie) is an embarrassment to the force. An ex-cop turns in his gun. Learn how to prevent police brutality. The Police Benevolent Fund manufactures support for the police department - a department under fire amid accusations of misconduct. The Police Guild negotiates a new contract for its members. The Police Union demands raise in overtime pay. Funds are increased with the seizure of drug money. Forfeiture proceedings are instituted, and the police seize the property of alleged drug dealers, including cars, homes, planes, real estate, guns, and drugs. At the same time, police raise funds for charity and participate in public service programs. Community policing resulted in ride-along programs for local citizens, and increased participation in police Explorer programs. But the broken-window, zero-tolerance program is difficult to evaluate. A gun-buyback program was successful, with cops collecting a variety of firearms, including assault rifles, handguns, Saturday night specials, automatic weapons, shotguns, tec-9, glocks, taurus, S&W, .45 caliber, .44 caliber, .357 caliber, 9mm, all military style. The guns were auctioned off or melted down. BATF agents were investigating the sale of handguns. The FBI conducted a background check, so citizens interested in the militia movement attended gun shows, where they were able to purchase handguns from vendors. Issuance of a concealed weapons permit was allowed, and this gun permit allowed the man to use his handgun for concealed carry in a shoulder holster. The national law enforcement memorial fund is a beautiful tribute to the boys in blue who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To serve and protect is their honorable motto. Duty and honor is another. The LAPD scandal tarnishes public perception of police officers. Police brutality is a major issue in minority neighborhoods. Neighborhood watch programs were quite effective in reducing crime statistics and increasing neighborhood safety. Cops shoot suspect, and then the cops shoot suspect again. The suspect is wounded, and then the suspect dies in police custody. This pattern is called custody death syndrome. Positional asphyxiation is often blamed for the death of prisoners, after the prisoners are pepper-sprayed, maced, beaten, handcuffed, and thrown in the back of a police car. Suicide by cop is another term that is becoming popular, as police seek to blame the victim and excuse their unprofessional behavior. These police cover-ups are ineffective, and police brutality is found to be the cause of death. Cops and robbers is a nice game, but when the cops kill or fatally wound a suspected robber, the circumstances are often suspicious. Many cops are drug abusers, some police are drug addicts, many officers are alcoholics. Cops on steroids often exhibit roid rage. Police brutality and racial profiling are two issues that often arise at major metropolitan police departments. Bill Sheehan created a website revealing the social security numbers, home addresses, and home telephone numbers of Kirkland Police Department (KPD) officers. SPD info was scheduled to go live on April 1st. Civil rights abuses probed. Officer convicted of drunk driving. Man killed in police raid. At the N30 demonstrations, cops without nametags beat nonviolent protestors without provocation. The direct action network, DAN for short, was created in response. During the Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday celebrations in Seattle, a roving gang of black thugs beat Kris Kime to death as he was attempting to assist an injured women, and the police stood by and did nothing. This murder is on the hands of Mayor Paul Schell, who refuses to prosecute the perpetrators for hate crimes. Some people have argued that a database of bad cops should be developed. Many authoritative academic studies examine the psychological profile of police officers. There are many deviant police officers. Some police departments foster a culture of police deviance. Where is a free punk music concert? Kids like to thrash on their skateboard. Snowboarding, or boarding, is enjoyed by straightedge skinheads. RATM is phat. The swat team, equipped with military gear, broke down the door and swarmed into the apartment with guns drawn. Dynamic entry police raids are dangerous to citizens. Police brutality is a growing problem.