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ACLU Accuses Sarasota Police of "Bum Hunting"

Nov 27, 2012

Sarasota police were accused today of going on "bum hunts" against the city's surging homeless population.  The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city in a class action suit on behalf of the city's homeless. The ACLU released transcripts of police messages referring to "bum hunting'' and dressing up as "bums."

The ACLU held a news conference today, accusing Sarasota of waging a  "war on the homeless."

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Five years ago, her mother was killed in a car crash caused by a driver who was distracted by a cell phone.

After Jennifer Smith laid her mother to rest, she embarked on a new cause - making sure this doesn't happen to someone else.

Smith, who lives in suburban Chicago, is in Tampa today to help kick off the state's first Distracted Driving Summit.

She's starting the Distraction Advocate Network, a nationwide group committed to raising awareness of the impact of distracted driving.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

The need to be in constant communication can have tragic consequences if you're driving. An epidemic of crashes caused by distracted drivers is behind a new campaign to change people's behavior behind the wheel. 

Watch: Tampa Police Spoof 'Call Me Maybe'

Nov 5, 2012
tampagov.net

It's been spoofed by the U.S. Olympic swim team, a pack of shirtless Abercrombie and Fitch models and even Cookie Monster.

Now Carly Rae Jepsen's summertime earworm Call Me Maybe has been parodied by another unlikely group: the Tampa Police Department.

Florida Highway Patrol

Interstate 75 remains closed northbound, several hours after a crash involving two tractor-trailers at about 2:00 p.m. Drivers can expect delays southbound on I-75.

Here's the release from the Florida Highway Patrol:

You can already hear all the likely jokes at the Supreme Court, about the justices going to the dogs. But the issue being argued Wednesday is deadly serious: whether police can take a trained drug-detection dog up to a house to smell for drugs inside, and if the dog alerts, use that to justify a search of the home.

In the case before the court, the four-legged cop was named Franky, and as a result of his nose, his human police partner charged Joelis Jardines with trafficking in more than 25 pounds of marijuana.

Tampa Police say they've arrested a Hillsborough County school bus driver for aggravated child abuse.

This afternoon the driver was taking special needs students to their destinations. At a bus stop on Harney Road in Tampa, an 8-year-old was trying to get off the bus and the driver told her to wait her turn. 

Police say that's when the girl slapped and pushed the driver. And the driver decided it was time for the girl to go. So while the 8-year-old was heading down the bus stairs, the driver used her foot to push the girl off the bus.

Florida License Plates May Get a Facelift

Oct 9, 2012
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

The proposed Florida license plate will be easier to read in an effort to crack down on toll booth runners.

Currently, state tags have raised letters and numbers. The new tags would be completely flat.  

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles hopes it will make the tags easier to read. The state loses about $7 million a year from toll booth runners with hard-to-read tags.  

But department spokeswoman Kirsten Olsen-Doolan says revenue isn't the only reason to switch to the new plates. 

Polk Sheriff's Office

Polk County Sheriff's detectives have charged a 14-year-old girl with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse for allegedly choking her newborn baby to death.
 
The girl, Cassidy Goodson, was arrested Thursday night.
 
Detectives say the girl hid her pregnancy from her family. She gave birth to a boy in the bathroom of her home on Sept. 19, then told detectives that she choked the baby and put him in a shoebox.  The girl's mother found the baby in the box, hidden in some laundry.
 

YouTube

The final tally was this: Tampa, two arrests. Charlotte, 25.

During last month's Republican National Convention, Tampa police distributed food and cold drinks to protesters in "Romneyville," while Chief Jane Castor earned props for her laid-back approach to the demonstrations.

And yet somehow, cops patrolling this week's Democratic National Convention in North Carolina have become the media darlings. This probably helped:

Briana Duggan / WFAE 90.7 FM

To borrow from baseball legend Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again" for protestors who attended last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa and this week's Democratic gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina.

They're seeing many of the same security measures, right down to the exact same barricades that lined downtown Tampa’s streets.

Watch: Is Downtown Tampa a Police State?

Aug 28, 2012
Alex Cook

"It's not a police state," says Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, adding that the officers on hand during Monday's March on the RNC were there for the protection of the protesters.

Armed National Guard troops peek from behind a labyrinth of barriers covering the city blocks around the convention site.  Police officers on bikes, horses, motorcycles and foot roam the empty city streets.

Some protesters are worried.

Take a look at downtown for yourself and see what Castor and protesters have to say below.

RNC Marchers Take to the Streets of Downtown Tampa

Aug 27, 2012
Steve Newborn / WUSF

The first day of the Republican National Convention might have been canceled, but that didn't stop a march by a coalition of about a dozen protest groups. The wet weather put a damper on their numbers, but apparently not their spirit.

Tampa Dodges Isaac, But Precautions Still Necessary

Aug 27, 2012
BayNews 9

Florida may have dodged Isaac, but that doesn't mean the Tampa Bay area is out of the woods.

Emergency officials earlier this morning canceled the tropical storm warning that has dogged much of Florida for days.

Monday's A Wash - And Not Just for the RNC

Aug 26, 2012

No Lynyrd Skynyrd. No Ann Romney. No Joe Biden.

And no school for thousands of Tampa Bay area students, including those in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

While the inside of the Tampa Bay Times Forum is filled with convention-goers, thousands of people are expected to be outside, trying to get their viewpoints heard. Violent riots have broken out at several recent conventions, so we take a look at how Tampa police are preparing.

These are the sounds that keep Tampa police officials up at night:

"We have rights!! We have rights!!"

RNC Protestors Expected to Arrive in Waves

Aug 24, 2012
Eric Mennel

As many as 5,000 protestors are expected to descend on Tampa for the convention next week. The Coalition to March on the RNC held a press conference on Friday to talk about their planned march for Monday. 

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Among the places getting a facelift in advance of the Republican National Convention is one location that most hope doesn't get a lot of use--Hillsborough County's Orient Road Jail.

Anyone arrested during the Convention will be taken to the facility, where they'll be booked and undergo preliminary court procedures.

Garbage Men on Waste Watch for RNC

Aug 24, 2012

With the Republican National Convention coming to Tampa, local law enforcement is calling for all hands on deck to help with security. They’ve even enlisted the help… of the city’s garbage men.

Waste Management's green garbage trucks are now part of a program called  “Waste Watch.”

The concept is simple: drivers trained by local police and a former FBI official look out for security threats during the convention.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF News

Representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement met with the media Thursday at an undisclosed Tampa Bay area site where the Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC) is located.

Over the next week, representatives from around 60 groups with ties to the Republican National Convention, ranging from law enforcement to Amtrak to TECO to the Federal Communications Commission, will work together in the MACC. They'll be monitoring everything from traffic to protests to the weather.

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