Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Faith-based leaders in Tampa aim to improve police-community relations

TAMPA — A forum held by local clergy groups drew about 100 people to the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church late Thursday to discuss relations between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

The meeting got heated when Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Maj. Willie Parker said his department has strong ties to the black community.

Donna Davis, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Tampa, disputed the statement. She said Thursday's event amounted to little more than bureaucrats "massaging us."

"This holding of court, if you will, is not serving the needs of people out in the streets," Davis said.

Thursday marked one week since a black gunman shot and killed five law enforcement officers in Dallas after a Black Lives Matter protest. Days earlier, a pair of fatal police shootings of black men sparked protests throughout the nation.

That tense week was followed by events and protests throughout the Tampa Bay area. Several hundred people packed a Tampa church for a Black Lives Matter Tampa meeting last Friday. And about 150 protesters blocked Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa on Monday.

The turmoil of the last two weeks is an indictment of the poor relationship between police departments nationwide and the people they serve, said W. James Favorite, a pastor at Beulah Baptist International Church.

"They don't know us and we don't know them," Favorite said.

It's a dynamic Favorite said he sees in Tampa. He'd like to see more police officers come to schools to speak with kids about what they do.

Favorite also sees a glaring need to repair the economic disparity between racial groups in the United States.

"There is a racial divide in this country that seems to be mounting rather than lessening," he said. "When you talk about division in the community we tend to think in terms of physical division and the way we talk to one another, but it's also an economic divide."

One place local officers can start is by getting out of their cruisers, said Sonya Williams, 47. The Tampa resident said that will help police sort out other challenges.

"I know when I was growing up in West Tampa, the officers used to walk the beat," Williams said. "It's a lack of that. We don't have that anymore. Stop the racial profiling, because it happens."

Tampa police Chief Eric Ward echoed Parker's praise of police-community relations in Hillsborough County. He believes his department has improved its ties with those they are tasked to serve.

"I teach the officers to treat the community with dignity and respect," Ward said.

But he said improving police-community relations is a two-way street. "We can't win the neighborhoods without the community getting out … and helping us," he said.

Contact Samuel Howard at (813) 226-3373 or [email protected] Follow @SamuelHHoward.

Comments
State baseball: 60 wins and counting for Calvary Christian

State baseball: 60 wins and counting for Calvary Christian

FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian will play for its second straight Class 4A state championship Thursday. The Warriors defeated Jacksonville Trinity Christian 2-1 on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium in a game delayed three hours due to weather. It is ...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedestrians ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Live blog: It comes down to this for Bolts-Caps

Live blog: It comes down to this for Bolts-Caps

Follow our live coverage of the Eastern Conference final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.We'll have updates, analysis, photos, video and more on and off the ice from Times reporters, editors, sports columnists and photo journa...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region baseball: Venice dispatches Mitchell

NEW PORT RICHEY — Walking by the football field and toward the parking lot after Wednesday's Class 7A region final at Ridgewood High, several Venice High players were caught by surprise as the irrigation system turned on.But while shaking off t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘C’mon Tampa, let’s go!’ Lightning fans gather for Game 7

‘C’mon Tampa, let’s go!’ Lightning fans gather for Game 7

TAMPA — Hours before Gate C opened Wednesday at Amalie Arena, six die-hard Tampa Bay Lightning fans gathered on the steps.Waiting.For Thomas Schooley, 40, of Seminole, it’s a pregame tradition with meaning."I’ve got to be the first one in," Schooley ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Eckerd College student critically injured in campus accident just before graduation

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student fell from a ladder on campus in the hours before her graduation ceremony and remained hospitalized Wednesday with head injuries.Chicago native Rebecca Ryan Lavin-Burgher, known as Becca on campus and RyRy to...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

UPDATE, 5:32: Faria is looking at at extended absence, potentially into August. Cash said an estimate of 6-8 weeks was on the optimistic side. "From what we found out he got it pretty good," Cash said.  "So it could be a little bit longer than t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Prather, owner of the Birchwood in St. Petersburg, returned from his daughter’s Maine wedding this week with an exciting announcement of his own. On June 7 the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to sign off on him being on...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Sinkhole opens up near Bayfront Health’s Brooksville hospital

BROOKSVILLE — A large sinkhole opened up by Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital in a water retention pond between State Road 50 and the hospital’s parking lot, according to a hospital spokeswoman.The sinkhole poses no threat to hospital buildings, e...
Updated: 3 hours ago