Daniel Ruth, the Michael Moore of Tampa Bay area newspaper columnists, yesterday went after the Tampa Police Department – the latest bastion of conservatism trashed by a liberal columnist. Not since being let go by the Tampa Tribune and rehired by the St. Petersburg Times, one can assume for half the money, has Ruth been so politically correct and unequivocally wrong. What’s his beef with Tampa’s thin blue line? Officers are spread out all over the city effectively doing their jobs at a level of performance that exceeds most municipalities in the state.
It seems the TBT’s left-wing type-and-griper is upset because the city’s police officers have been encouraged to arrest more bad guys “if they want to look good on their annual performance reviews.” According to Ruth’s column, this dastardly practice of arresting dangerous felons and ticketing crazy drivers – you know, like the ones that drive the wrong way up interstate ramps, is pretty much a waste of time. Never mind that Tampa’s crime rate has been for the most part declining since 2001, Ruth thinks the officers’ good works is just a ruse to fill city coffers.
Ruth has no evidence for his claims against the TPD. Instead, he cites statistics showing the city’s police wrote more tickets last year than sheriff’s offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties combined; more per capita than cops in Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando, the state’s four other largest cities. And no other law enforcement agency in the state arrests more people than the Tampa Police Department. Ruth’s rant fails to produce any proof or case studies of injustice and instead relies on a Tampa Bay Times statistics report showing Tampa police officers work harder than most to prevent crimes, ticket dangerous drivers and apprehend violent criminals. While Ruth gives Tampa police officers and detectives no credit for keeping the city’s streets safe, he’s real big on the new police chief’s liberal community policing policies.
Ruth first mentions that Chief Eric Ward grew up in Tampa like that somehow makes him a better police chief. Ruth is quick to praise the new chief for telling his officers to “listen to them. Shoot some hoops with the kids in the park. Have coffee with a grandmother.” He says Chief Ward is a big believer in community policing which according to the columnist means they need to park their very expensive police cruisers and revert to riding bikes and walking a beat while interacting with people.” Never mind that car thieves could high jack a car before an officer could unlock his bicycle.
Hopefully, the new chief won’t have officers leave their patrol cars parked for too long. Car theft is practically a rite of passage for teens on the streets of Tampa. Last year a stolen Hillsborough County Fire Rescue vehicle bounced off an interstate barrier and hit two vehicles before it came to rest. It’s going to be pretty embarrassing not to mention alarming if a heavily armed police cruiser is taken for a joy ride while officers are talking to grandma.
Ruth’s rant seems to focus on traffic citations. Perhaps the liberal flamethower has a glove compartment full of parking tickets or a couple of speeding tickets he didn’t mention in yesterday’s cop bash. That could account for his unwarranted implications for average police officers while simultaneously sucking up to their new chief.