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10 Investigates asked Tampa Bay law enforcement for the race breakdown in their departments; here's what they said

10 Investigates uncovered fewer than 20 percent of area officers are black people.

TAMPA, Fla — Emotions are higher than ever as law enforcement agencies review and tweak policies following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody."  

They feel they are needed to regain trust in some communities across the country.

One solution advocates agree on is the need for more black officers in our police departments. But as 10 Investigates learned, that means a lot of work is needed across Tampa Bay area departments.

“I know full reform will take time,” Shelly Wagers told 10 Investigates' Jennifer Titus. Wagers is a criminal justice professor at the University of South Florida.

“I think that a diverse background is very important.”

She says there are a lot of pieces that make up the puzzle to solving police reform. One of those pieces is hiring more black officers.

“If you have more of a diverse background on the force especially as you promote up, those voices are being heard at the table more,” Wagers said.

10 Investigates scoured through the demographic data at 22 Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies. We found that just 14 percent of officers are black people.

“It's important for the community to see people who look like them,” Wagers said.

“It is a priority to me. Since I modified standards, our diversity rate today, in terms of hiring is at 59.9 percent,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Jennifer Titus.

According to data, the breakdown in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is 1,409 white deputies and 276 black deputies.

“I think those numbers need to increase. Especially with those recruits now,” Chronister said.

He says the agency is focusing on recruiting, "We hit minority individuals at every stage in life.” By making new recruitment videos, being at job fairs and talking to people in black communities and colleges, Chronister hopes they can create a more diverse team.

“We’ve made great strides but still have work to do.”

Sarasota Police have 147 white officers and 12 black officers.

Kate Meeks who is head of recruiting says the department has been working on recruiting more minorities for a while. She says the problem is that they aren’t getting as many minority applicants.

“We have less minority applicants then we do white applicants. I can go all day long and go to a college and say we want you,” Meeks said.

She says the same techniques being used by HCSO are being used at SPD. They are focusing on hiring fairs at predominantly black colleges and Hispanic institutions as well.

“You always want to manage bringing in [the] best people you can find and help people that are calling for help. That’s a step,” Meeks said.

Wagers says while recruiting black officers is a step, there’s a long way to go from some agencies in building back the trust that has been lost in some minority communities.

“I think it’s a step but definitely, it will take more than that,” Wagers said.

Chronister said recruiting black deputies will be even more of a challenge now with what happened in Minneapolis. He says incidents like that set things back, but it’s a challenge he’s willing to accept.

10 Investigates found some local agencies with fewer than five black officers on their force.

So how do all of our local law enforcement stack up?

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office has the highest percentage of black officers with 24 percent. That means it has 116 white officers and 85 black officers.

While Longboat Key Police has the highest percentage of white officers on its force with 95 percent. It has a total of 21 officers. Twenty officers are white and one is a black officer.

The Tampa Bay area has two departments, Auburndale Police and Lake Placid Police with zero black officers. Lake Placid Police has a total of nine officers and Auburndale Police has a total of 39.

Here is the full breakdown of race by each Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies:

Wauchula Police: (TOTAL 14) 7 percent black officers/71 percent white officers

  • 10 white officers
  • 3 Hispanic officers
  • 1 African American/black officer

Lake Placid Police: (TOTAL 9) 0 percent black officers/89 percent white officers

  • 8 white officers
  • 1 Hispanic officer

Sebring Police: (TOTAL 36) 3 percent  black officers/67 percent white officers

  • 0 Asian officers
  • 1 black officer
  • 10 Hispanic officers
  • 1 other officer
  • 24 white officers

Dade City: (TOTAL 23) 4 percent  black officers/83 percent white officers

  • 3 Hispanic officers
  • 1 black officer
  • 19 white officers

New Port Richey Police: (TOTAL 41) 2 percent black officers/80 percent white officers

  • 1 black officer
  • 2 other officers
  • 5 Hispanic officers
  • 33 white officers

Pinellas Park PD: (TOTAL: 108) 6 percent black officers/92 percent white officers

  • 3 Asian/Pacific Islander officers
  • 6 black officers
  • 99 white officers

Long Boat Key: (TOTAL 21) 5 percent black officers/95 percent white officers

  • 20 white officers
  • 1 black officer

Gulfport: (TOTAL: 31) 6 percent black officers/77 percent white officers

  • 2 Asian officers
  • 2 black officers
  • 2 Hispanic officers
  • 24 white officers
  • 1 unknown officer

Highlands Sheriff: (TOTAL 229) 6 percent black officers/81 percent white officers

  • 3 Asian officers
  • 13 black officers
  • 27 Hispanic officers
  • 185 white officers
  • 1 with two or more races 

Sarasota Police: (TOTAL 179) 7 percent black officers/82 percent white officers

  • 2 Asian officers
  • 12 black officers
  • 18 Hispanic officers
  • 147 white officers

Winter Haven Public Safety: (TOTAL 82) 10 percent black officers/71 percent white officers

  • 58 white officers
  • 12 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 8 black officers
  • 4 Other officers

Polk County Sheriff: (TOTAL 1005) 17 percent black officers/68 percent white officers

  • 4 Asian officers
  • 167 black officers
  • 143 Hispanic officers
  • 0 Indian officers
  • 5 other officers
  • 686 white officers

Auburndale Police: (TOTAL 39) 0 percent black officers/82 percent white officers

  • 0 Asian officers
  • 0 black officers
  • 6 Hispanic officers
  • 1 other (multi-racial) officers
  • 32 white officers

Haines City Police: (TOTAL 54) 17 percent black officers/50 percent white officers

  • 27 white officers
  • 14 Hispanic officers
  • 9 black officers
  • 4 other officers

Hardee County Sheriff: (TOTAL 38) 3 percent black officers/79 percent white officers

  • 30 white officers
  • 7 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 1 black officer

Clearwater Police: (TOTAL 245) 9 percent black officers/74 percent white officers

  • 181 white officers
  • 22 African-American officers
  • 33 Hispanic officers
  • 9 Asian/Pacific officers

Temple Terrace: (46 TOTAL) 11 percent black officers/78 percent white officers

  • 5 black officers
  • 36 white officers
  • 4 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 1 other officer

Hernando County Sheriff's Office: (132 TOTAL) 3 percent black officers/88 percent white officers

  • 116 white officers
  • 9 Hispanic officers
  • 4 black officers
  • 3 other officers

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office: (TOTAL: 2188) 13 percent black officers/64 percent white officers

  • 1409 white officers
  • 395 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 276 black officers
  • 11 American Indian or Alaska Native officers
  • 28 Asian officers
  • 5 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander officers
  • 64 two or more races 

Venice Police: (TOTAL: 48) 4 percent black officers/90 percent white officers

  • 0 Asian officers
  • 2 black officers
  • 3 Hispanic officers
  • 43 white officers

Lake Hamilton Police: (TOTAL: 10) 20 percent black officers/70 percent white officers

  • 7 white officers
  • 1 Asian officer
  • 2 black officers

Citrus Co. Sheriff: (TOTAL: 120) 4 percent black officers/83 percent white officers

  • 99 white officers
  • 5 black officers
  • 11 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 5 other officers

***(NOTE: every department below includes ALL sworn individuals, not just patrol.)

Pinellas Co. Sheriff: (TOTAL 1549) 14 percent black officers/78 percent white officers

  • 1215 white officers
  • 101 Hispanic officers
  • 211 black officers
  • 19 Asian officers
  • 1 American Indian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander officer
  • 2 with two or more races

Manatee Sheriff’s Office: (TOTAL 770) 8 percent black officers/80 percent white officers

  • 8 Asian officers
  • 62 black officers
  • 81 Hispanic officers
  • 2 Indian officers
  • 617 white officers

Sarasota Sheriff: (TOTAL 636) 5 percent black officers/85 percent white officers

  • 540 white officers
  • 34 black or African American officers
  • 48 Hispanic officers
  • 7 Asian officers
  • 7 other officers

Tampa police: (TOTAL 934) 13 percent black officers/69 percent white officers

  • 119 black officers
  • 642 white officers
  • 152 Spanish officers
  • 18 Asian officers
  • 3 American Indian officers

St. Pete Police: (TOTAL 544) 14 percent black officers/75 percent white officers

  • 1 American Indian officer
  • 3 two or more races 
  • 15 Asian officers
  • 47 Hispanic officers
  • 75 black officers
  • 409 white officers

Pasco Sheriff: (TOTAL 351) 24 percent black officers/33 percent white officers

  • 116 white officers
  • 85 black officers
  • 114 Hispanic officers
  • 6 Hawaiian/Pacific Islander officers
  • 4 American/Alaskan Native officers
  • 6 Asian officers
  • 20 two or more races

Florida Department of Highway Patrol:

Statewide (TOTAL 1826) 14 percent black officers/60 percent white officers

  • 26 Asian officers
  • 254 black/African American officers
  • 439 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 1087 white officers
  • 20 other officers

Troop C (Tampa): (TOTAL 190) 13 percent black officers/71 percent white officers 

  • 4 Asian officers
  • 24 black/African American officers
  • 24 Hispanic/Latino officers
  • 135 white officers
  • 3 other officers

RELATED: Tampa's NAACP calls for citizen review board changes and more

RELATED: Calls grow for citizen review boards: Here’s what they are and which police agencies already have them

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