Friday, July 20, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas residents lament failure of civil citation bill

ST. PETERSBURG — The children held the signs high as the churchgoers and activists sang Amazing Grace:

401 Trespassing

2,093 Petit Theft

340 Vandalism

In Florida, law enforcement officers can give juveniles civil citations instead of a criminal record for certain first-time misdemeanor offenses.

The numbers on the signs represented all the times that didn't happen last year.

"Giving them an arrest record really haunts them for a long, long time, when they're applying for jobs, scholarships, trying to get into the military," said Peter Andre, deacon of St. Petersburg's Holy Family Catholic Church.

About 100 activists and Pinellas County churchgoers met at Bethel Community Baptist Church on Monday night to pray for the thousands of children they say are "branded for life" with criminal records. They lamented the failure of a state bill that would have guaranteed civil citations for certain first-time offenses.

With pushback from groups such as the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the bill never got to a floor vote.

"If this did pass, this is something I would make a plea to the governor to veto," Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

A supporter of pre-arrest diversion programs, Gualtieri said he empathizes with the cause. But he said the bill would hamper effective policing by removing officers' discretion.

Faith and Action for Strength Together, which organized Monday's event, had some attendees share their stories. Johnny Watson spoke about his son, who is on the autism spectrum and was arrested at age 12 for hugging an employee at his middle school.

His son is now 25, bouncing between dishwashing jobs.

"I hope that no kid has to be stigmatized and branded like that," Watson said. "I think it took everything from him."

Contact Claire McNeill at [email protected]

Comments
Iraqi interpreter whose citizenship fight was profiled in the Times to become an American

Iraqi interpreter whose citizenship fight was profiled in the Times to become an American

An interpreter who risked his life helping U.S. forces in Iraq and then fought for two years to become a U.S. citizen will soon be an American.On Friday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service notified Haeder Alanbki, 36, that his request for c...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

No arrest in fatal shooting during argument over handicap parking space

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Friday that his agency will not arrest a man deputies say shot and killed another man during an argument over a handicap parking space.The incident falls under Florida’s self-defense law kn...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School board chair Rene Flowers was fired up Friday. She talked about growing up in Jordan Park, the city’s first public housing project and a sentimental and historic marker of St. Petersburg’s African-American commu...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Editorial: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

Tampa Bay Rays dream big but follow trend in plans for smaller stadium

TAMPA — When it comes to filling a ballpark, the Tampa Bay Rays are Major League Baseball’s perennial bottom-dweller.The team has finished last in average attendance the past six seasons at Tropicana Field. As of the All-Star Game, the season’s tradi...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Carlton: Rotary Clubs support no-women-allowed dinner. What year is this?

Going "stag" sounds so old-fashioned — boys night out, sans the gals.But it’s not so outdated in certain Rotary clubs in the Brandon suburbs and still rural Plant City. There, the decades-old no-women-allowed tradition of the yearly stag Wild Game Di...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

SARASOTA — The backdrop at University Park Country Club had a larger-than-life image of Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with one of the team's slogans for 2018: "JOIN THE KREWE."New Bucs center Ryan Jensen was on hand for a luncheon hosted b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Rays come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Marlins. Here's the lineup for Tampa Bay, which dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami:Kiermaier CFHechavarria SSBauers 1BRoberts...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida has not stopped paying the SunPass contractor responsible for the tolling system’s outage, even after transportation officials said the state would suspend all payments.In a letter on Monday, FDOT secretary Mike Dew said the state would not p...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been suspended from the upcoming season opener for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy in a 2017 arrest in St. Petersburg.Fowler, 23, was arrested in his hom...
Updated: 4 hours ago