TAMPA (FOX 13) - For the second time in six-weeks, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan was in front of the Tampa City Council to discuss TPD's bicycle ticketing program.
So far this year, officers stopped 3,298 people riding bicycles across the city. Fifty-eight percent of those riders were black men, most of them in East Tampa.
"The number of black males, that number is not changing,” said Councilman Frank Reddick. “It continues to be very, very high. And therefore, I’m just wondering why is that number so high?"
Dugan says black bicyclists are not being targeted. Rather, the neighborhoods with more stops happen to be predominantly African American.
"You can see where the concentration of bike stops is where the majority of the crime is," Dugan told the council.
He points out there are other crime trends across the city that are also racially and geographically disproportionate. For example, 75 percent of the DUI arrests in the city this year were white people. The majority getting pulled over in South Tampa and Ybor City.
“Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and when you look at crime trends and how we police our city, each neighborhood has their own challenges and so you police that neighborhood based upon the type of crime and M.O. of how people are doing it,” said Dugan.
In 2015, the bicycle ticketing program was accused of racial profiling and prompted a Department of Justice Investigation. The DOJ recommended cutting down on bike stops and keeping better track of who’s pulled over and why.
"What are we doing differently today then we were doing that was identified in the justice department report," Councilman Harry Cohen asked.
From 2013 to 2017, bicycle citations dropped 90 percent. Dugan says a big part of that is because officers can now decide between writing a ticket or giving a warning.
“If we can give them a warning and change their behavior, by all means, feel free to do it."