Residents: Tampa Housing Authority policy verges on harassment

11/06/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Last month, Tampa City Council Chairman Thomas Scott called for a formal inquiry into reports by residents of public housing in Tampa, who have complained about some people being harassed by Tampa Police officers.

No word on the mayor taking up that call – but residents say they have been subjected to random stops while walking or driving, visitors have been threatened with trespass warnings, and officers have broken up small gatherings outside people's homes.

Joyce Wiggs said she didn’t know the policies and procedures of the TPD, but said police were using a highrise as perhaps a look out point at North Boulevard Homes.

Tampa Housing Authority attorney Ricardo Gilmore said the provision being enforced by Tampa Police has been in law since 1994.

Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder said he recently visited a public housing site, and said THA officials have serious challenges.

However, Scott was not ready to dismiss the issue so quickly. He said people living in public housing have a right to live in a safe environment, without being harassed.

Housing Authority Attorney Ricardo Gilmore insisted that the Tampa Housing Authority was not trying to exclude anybody.

Tampa City Attorney Chip Fletcher said his office looked at the TPD’s enforcement of trespass warnings. He said issues of trespassing would be the province of the State Attorney’s Office, and not the city.

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