Mayor asked to investigate police harassment at housing project listen10/16/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Tampa City Council today voted to recommend to Mayor Pam Iorio that she appoint an investigative body to study interactions between the Tampa Police Department and residents at a public housing development.
The action was proposed after several public housing residents complained of ill treatment by the police.
Kim Reid lives at North Boulevard homes. She said she called the Tampa Police Department last March, but says she only received harassment.
Connie Burton was kicked out of public housing in Tampa years ago after violating the One Strike, Youâ€™re Out law. That law, upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court, requires that public housing tenants be evicted if they or any guest in their home engages in criminal activity. Burton's son was the accused.
Burton said when she recently visited North Boulevard Homes, she was threatened with being charged with trespassing. She said such harassment is only alienating young men growing up in public housing.
Community activist Michele Williams from Valrico accused Tampa police officers of racially profiling black and latino people in public housing projects.
City Council Chair Thomas Scott said the Council needed to try to move the situation forward.
Earlier this year, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee convened an independent panel to investigate possible abuses in county jails after a series of episodes were exposed.
Councilman Scott asked City Attorney Chip Fletcher if the City could do something similar with the police at public housing facilities.
Councilman Joseph Catano said he welcomed an investigation, and said he feared for the safety of one of the accused officers.
Councilman Charlie Miranda said he himself is a product of Tampa public housing. While emphasizing that he was not referring to the case in front of him, he defended the police, and said that the Council had heard only one side of the story.
The Council voted unanimously to ask the Mayor to convene an investigative panel to study whatâ€™s happening with the Tampa police at public housing projects. .