Sep 17, 2021 - Politics

Tampa Police in Twitter beef with the Times

Illustration of the Twitter logo wrapped in caution tape

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Tampa Police Department claims reporters didn't tell the whole story after the Tampa Bay Times published an investigation into the department.

The investigation: Journalists Chris O'Donnell and Ian Hodgson reported that a TPD program started under former police chief and current mayor Jane Castor urged landlords to evict hundreds of mostly Black tenants after arrests.

  • But families still lost their homes even after charges were dropped.
  • The story opens with a family who lost their home after a 16-year-old stole $4.44 in change, a glove, a flashlight, a hoodie and wireless headphones.
  • The program, meant to target "documented violent offenders, gang members or career criminals" led to the eviction of those with misdemeanors even if charges didn't stick.

The other side: TPD's Twitter account has been replying to the Times and O'Donnell's tweets about the article with videos they say tell a different story.

  • In the department's videos, two Robles Park residents describe the neighborhood as having "glass everywhere, shootings, fights, a lot of drug dealers," before the program.
  • Now, one resident said, "It's like a new day. The dealers are gone. Thank you, TPD. … Thank you Tampa Housing Authority."

Selene's thought bubble: Police departments don't usually clap back to journalists on social media, especially not to go out of the way to get citizens to speak.

  • Police may be trying to show the positive effects of their program, but it also makes them seem intimidated by the Times' report.

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