Tampa Police face more abuse allegations listen02/19/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday
Members of the Tampa City Council today spoke out after once again hearing complaints by a few public housing residents of abuse by a member of the Tampa Police Department.
For months, there has been criticism of police officer Dusty Rhodes, who works at North Boulevard Homes – but there has been seemingly no action taken, either by angry residents or other authorities in following up on such allegations.
Mark Newton said that everytime he’s on certain streets in West Tampa, Rhodes pulls him over.
Councilman John Dingfelder immediately pressed Newton, asking him if he had filed a written complaint documenting his charges. Newton said he had not.
Public housing activist Connie Burton said one resident has written a complaint, and was looking forward to receiving a response. But she indicted the system as not being responsive.
Councilman Charlie Miranda said he had no authority to deal with the matter, and said it wasn’t appropriate for angry citizens to keep coming to the Council for guidance.
City Attorney Chip Fletcher said that he had looked into reports on Office Rhodes and had not found any formal complaints against him. He said he had found reports on the situation about North Boulevard Homes, and about random tag checks, but said the Internal Affairs Bureau would be the agency for those should go to seek resolution.
Not every public housing resident was critical of Rhodes. A woman who described herself simply as Janee said he was a hero, not a villain.
Greg Stoudt, president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, thanked the Council for their involvement in the Rhodes affair, and said the officer was getting a bum rap.
Laura Bell Harris has been at the center of leveling complaints against Rhodes in front of the Council for several months now. After hearing the praise for the officer, she presented herself as a conduit for the criticism, rather than the victim of it. But she said she had been promised a written report made out to her about the police officer.
City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern said she previously offered to speak with Harris, but Harris had not accepted that offer.