The president of the NAACP of Manatee County, Rodney Jones, is helping organize a peaceful protest in downtown Bradenton after he says public records the organization received demonstrate “potential racial profiling” by the police department and that blacks are over represented in traffic stops, police-involved shootings and deaths.
But Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan calls it irresponsible of Jones to accuse the police department of racial profiling by just looking at statistics without analyzing all the incidents in question.
Last month, Jones held a press conference outside the police department headquarters to publicly announce that he had made public records requests to the Bradenton, Palmetto and Sarasota police departments and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office regarding police-involved shootings and traffic stops in order to determine if there were any inequities.
But Jones claimed the reports the NAACP had received from Bradenton didn’t add up to 57,103 total citations because of the breakdown of those arrested. The breakdown of citations was: 44,061 were white; 11,832 were black; 9,116 were Hispanic; 46 were Indian; 273 were Asian; and 37 were unknown — which would be a total of 65,365.
Bradenton police followed up with updated reports, realizing that the error had been because of a limitation in its records management system that responds to certain queries by counting Hispanics twice — as Hispanic and white.
But in an email to Bevan last Thursday, Jones said he would be helping to organize a peaceful protest to bring awareness to the historic issues with the Bradenton Police Department and the minority community.
“We demand equal footing and to be treated as our concerns are more than a political stunt. Blacks being tremendously over represented in traffic stops, police shootings, and deaths are not political stunts,” Jones wrote. “The City of Bradenton’s posture, coupled with data that presents potential racial profiling by the City of Bradenton Police Department, that is well above national averages, has brought us to this point.”
Jones said he couldn’t provide any details regarding the protest to the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday, citing that it was still in the planning stages.
On Monday, Bevan responded to Jones’ email by assuring first that Bradenton police officers would do everything they can to ensure the safety and protect the constitutional rights of all those who participate in the demonstration Nov. 19. Bevan also refers to her multiple invitations to meet with Jones that have been declined.
“With reference to your response to my October 13, 2016, email, ‘there are groups that are planning to bring a level of protest, civil disobedience and media attention to downtown City of Bradenton,’ I do not see any reason to wait until after the November 19, 2016, assembly to “come to the table” to discuss any issues of concern,” Bevan wrote.
Bevan reminded Jones in her email, that during their only meeting they had agreed that the data could be interpreted different ways.
“Fundamentally, the data serves as a starting point for further data collection and dialogue, with a stronger focus on outcomes,” she wrote. “Consequently, I believe it is irresponsible to conclude that members of BPD have engaged in disparate treatment of African-Americans based strictly on the statistics without conducting detailed analysis of the incidents that generated this data.”
The police chief then provided Jones with her own deeper analysis of the 14 police-involved shootings with Bradenton police since 1986.
▪ Six of the encounters resulted in the subjects being fatally wounded — four black men and two white men.
▪ Six of the encounters resulted in the subjects receiving non-fatal injuries — one Hispanic man, three black men, two white men.
▪ Two of the encounters resulted in no injuries to the subjects.
▪ In all six of the fatal police-involved shooting, the officers were being attacked by the subjects — two with a firearm and four with other weapons.
▪ Of the 14 police-involved shootings, 10 were the result of calls for service.
▪ Only one of the police-involved shooting that was the result of a non-dispatched call for service was fatal.
▪ Since 2012, all police-involved shootings with the Bradenton Police Department have been investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
▪ In the past 30 years, the State Attorney’s Office has conducted an independent review of all 14 police-involved shootings and found officers were justified in their uses of deadly force.