Investigation of Tampa Bike Stop and Ticketing Policies Finds Racial Disparities

The race issue got better once cops had to actually report on their bike stops.


That Tampa police were absurdly overzealous in stopping and often ticketing bike riders, with often deleterious effects on the less well-to-do, was already well known and reported on by me last year.

photosteve101 / Foter / CC BY

Tampa's bike enforcement problem became so notorious the federal Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) got involved in studying it. The result of their research was released today.

DOJ's press release on the study.

The investigation found, among other things, that the suspected racial disparities in bike rider ticketing were real.

The report studies bike ticketing patterns from January 1, 2014 to August 30, 2015, and found that although only 40 percent of total riders were black, 73 percent of riders stopped by Tampa cops were black.

And while the Tampa Police Department claimed that rigorous stopping of bike riders was a larger crime prevention measure, the DOJ found that there was no measurable crime reduction or any kind of positive impact on public safety from the bike stops. "The bicycle stop program did, however, negatively impact community and police relations," the press release noted.

The report did not try to claim that the racial disparities resulted from proven racial animus or discriminatory intent, however.

Fortunately, the percentage of citizens actually ticketed after being stopped is small, since it is those tickets and failure to pay them that spiral into true life-ruining situations for something that started as a very petty matter.

But the percentage of the stopped who are cited had also been disproportionately black, as the study wrote:

Even after adjusting for time and place of the stops, we still find that the percentage of Black bicyclists receiving citations exceeds that of White bicyclists. In fact, the percentage of Black and White stopped bicyclists receiving a citation is nearly identical to the unadjusted percentages— 5.3 percent of stopped Black bicyclists received citations, and 2.7 percent of matched White bicyclists received citations.

Interestingly, once Tampa PD policy changed to require documentation of bike stops after May 2015, things got a little different:

After May 2015, the TPD issued citations to 6.0 percent of stopped Black bicyclists and 6.1 percent of similarly situated stopped White bicyclists. It is unclear whether officers have changed their citation practices or have altered their documentation practices since May 2015. These findings indicate that stopped bicyclists who were Black received citations at a higher rate than stopped bicyclists who were White—even after matching on several relevant factors. Yet this difference disappeared after May 1, 2015, when the TPD changed its rules regarding the documentation of bicycle stops.

Text of the full study. It does not, alas, add to any systematized knowledge regarding what ends up happening to people receiving citations that require payment, how many go unpaid in a timely manner and what bad results arise from that, all issues the government seems unconcerned with.

Another terrible tale of enforcing bike law from Florida, involving riding the "wrong way" ending with an unarmed man shot and paralyzed.

NEXT: Primaries Tonight, Millennials Reject Capitalism, Another Mattress Girl Lawsuit: P.M. Links

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  1. [Lights the Irish signal]

    1. Is that a shamrock, a leprechaun, or a Guinness?

    2. Is that a shamrock, a leprechaun, or a Guinness?

      1. a cross

        1. I though that was for Italians?

          1. A lit cross is an italian signal?

            1. Ah, I see. Funny, I wasn’t even thinking about that kind of lit cross even given the subject. I was thinking catholic.

              1. You burn Catholics? Jeez, Irish just hates the black man – he doesn’t go around throwing them on pyres.

            2. You hit that out of the park, and it went unappreciated.

              1. Thank you.

  2. Assholes who criminalize everything when cops over zealously look for ways to enforce said laws. They are pulling over more blacks because they are looking for specific things our ruling class have outlawed despite them being victimless offenses.

    Also, PM links commentary – the whole Milenial polling confusion I think adds clarity to the Obama remarks that there is no difference between capitalism and socialism. It was a sales pitch to our retarded youths while on foreign soil. My hunch.

    It’s a result of a broken education system that doesn’t teach these idiots the differences, and 8 years of propaganda from the media defending Obama. They slowly went from arguing that Obama wasn’t socialist to arguing that socialism isn’t that bad. They’ve purposely muddied the water on the term socialism, and it is most obviously manifesting itself in the rise of Bernie.

    1. Wow, he really said that. That is fucked up.

    2. Socialism is like capitalism, except that you don’t waste money on profits going to rich people. So it’s more efficient. And most of all more moral, since the rich aren’t siphoning off profits.

      Am I close?

      Do I get a star?

      My response to such an argument is that profits are the price you pay for efficiency. When profit is there as an incentive, people figure out how to get more from less. They have an incentive to be more efficient. After all, it’s their money.

      But that price is much smaller than the one you pay when you let government take something over. Because the major incentives in government are self preservation and power, both of which result in waste. Why be efficient? It’s not their money.

      Capitalism encourages efficiency, while government encourages waste.

    3. The first sentence should read, “Assholes who criminalize everything complain when cops over zealously look for ways to enforce said laws.” Just a correction.

      Capitalism encourages efficiency, while government encourages waste.

      The fundamental premise is now rejected by young progressives. I don’t think people fully appreciate the cultural shift we’ve seen the last 8 years. The left went from defending Obama as a socialist because they perceived it as a slight to embracing the concept. We somehow went from a large portion of voters dismissing the attack against Obama as baseless to a lot of idiots asking themselves why not socialism. There is now a normalcy attached to the word. They used to point to the Scandinavian countries as evidence that Obama was not socialist. Now they point to them to argue that Bernie’s brand of socialism is good.

      The only way to refute them is letting them have their way. Like a little kid who thinks that eating all the cake is a good idea until they end up puking all over the place, my generation is only going to learn by experience the malaise and decay of socialism first hand.

      1. Yeah, except your idiot peers are going to drag us all (and our children/grandchildren) into hell with them. If they want to recreate the French Terror, or Stalin’s Purges, etc., they are going to find me and several others trying to kill them. I am old enough to remember the Evil Empire, and it was evil. And I will die to prevent that hell from being unleashed on my country.

      2. Much as I would relish these idiots getting what they want and getting it good and hard, I’m a little averse to being collateral.

        1. Jinx you owe me a beer

      3. I would be fine with these people going to hell in their own hand-made handbasket.

        Except that they’ll kill me if I try to secede. So, if I’ve got to stay, I’ve got to waste energy fighting to keep them from turning the place into a shithole ala Venezuela.

  3. Well the reason they are stopping people on bikes is because it’s easy to find an infraction and it’s nothing more than an excuse to check for drugs. They are of course profiling to increase their odds. It’s basically a fishing expedition.

    1. it’s nothing more than an excuse to check for drugs

      Bingo! (Which, by the way, is the answer to the age old question about how you get a sweet little old lady to drop the f-bomb)

    2. Same as kids. They might have beer in the car. Maybe they’re going to a party.

      1. If the police spent half as much energy as they to on investigating crimes with actual victims as they did on people who use unapproved chemicals, they might actually be useful!

  4. Another Millennial poll.


  5. Coming out of a Lightning game we were walking behind a couple of guys. One of them was drunk and mildly running his mouth as we walked by a couple of cops. All of a sudden one of the cops just went off on the guy like a peacock asserting authority. It was actually disturbing to watch and the asshole scared the shit out of my then eight year-old daughter. She just stared at the cop like he was the devil.

    I get people can be silly but the reaction was over the top in my view and lacked any professionalism. He was just trying to show a preppy drunk guy who was boss.

    What I’m *trying* to say is fuck you officer for scaring my daughter for such a trivial incident.

    1. If only there were a tool that we could use, something like a woodchipper. What an asshole.

  6. Yet this difference disappeared after May 1, 2015, when the TPD changed its rules regarding the documentation of bicycle stops.

    The first step to controlling a process is to measure it.

    Body cams for all cops!

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  8. I’m different words, people in different groups got stopped proportional to the share of law breakers in that group? And this is a problem… Why?

  9. Well duh, cause they probably stole it.


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