One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

It was just before 9 a.m. one day last July, and Noemi Martinez was on her way from one job interview to the next, running to catch a bus on Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville, Fla. Sprinklers from a nearby nursery were showering water onto the broken sidewalk in front of her, so Martinez walked out into the shoulder of Lee Road and pressed on.

Things were fairly urgent for Martinez, 52. An eviction notice had been pasted on her apartment door on Jacksonville’s West Side. A job was vital, and she’d just interviewed for work as a bus driver. Now, she was off to interview for a position as a customer service representative at Florida Blue, the health insurance giant.

Just then, Officer C.J. Brown of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cruised by on his motorcycle. Martinez’s luck could hardly have been worse.

Brown wrote more pedestrian tickets than any other member of the sheriff’s force over the last five years. And so at 8:58 a.m. on July 19, 2017, he issued a $62.50 citation to Martinez: “Pedestrian failed to use sidewalk. Walking in roadway where sidewalks provided.”

“I’ve never been stopped for anything and you’re going to stop me for walking, when I was doing everything right,” Martinez recalled saying to Brown. “He stopped me as if I was a criminal.”

ProPublica and the Times-Union examined more than 2,200 pedestrian tickets issued to people in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017, and found that 55 percent of them were issued to blacks despite the fact that the city’s population is just 29 percent African American. The sheriff’s office says the tickets are issued in an effort to limit pedestrian fatalities and combat crime.

Brown has fully embraced the ticket enforcement effort. Records show Brown issued 198 pedestrian tickets over five years, four times the total of the next most prolific officer. Slightly more than 60 percent of his tickets went to blacks, meaning one of every 10 blacks to receive a pedestrian ticket in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017 was cited by Brown.

Top officials with the sheriff’s office said they had no issue with Brown’s performance, or whom he ticketed. The sheriff’s office said Brown wrote a large volume of tickets because he’d been assigned to special enforcement shifts as part of a state-funded effort to make Jacksonville safer for pedestrians.

However, the Times-Union and ProPublica discovered Brown’s work on those shifts could not have accounted for his number of tickets. Those special enforcement shifts were aimed at issuing warnings, not tickets. Officers working those shifts actually wrote modest numbers of tickets.

Noemi Martinez walked in the street to avoid sprinklers flooding the sidewalk, from a nursery on Lee Road, as she walked to a bus stop. Martinez was ticketed by a passing JSO motorcycle patrolman for being in the road. (Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union)
Presented with the findings, the sheriff’s office amended its explanation for Brown’s productivity, saying Brown was simply a traffic officer who was “good at his job.”

Continue reading: https://www.propublica.org/article/walking-while-black-tickets-officer-brown?utm_campaign=sprout&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=1511376388

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5620 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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