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Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Tampa’s Top Law Enforcement Officer Promises Violent Crime Crackdown

Tampa’s Top Law Enforcement Officer Promises Violent Crime Crackdown


Speaking to the city council, Tampa Police Department Chief Lee Bercaw outlined a multi-point plan which, he says, will reduce the number of shootings in the area and make people feel safer.

Police received reports of at least twenty-four shootings in the Tampa Bay area in April and May 2024. In one case, video from TPD shows cops driving by about 30 seconds before the gunshots. Police say it’s not the only time recently that a shooting has occurred with cops nearby.

“The shooting that was about three weeks before that, the officers were already in the parking lot breaking up a fight before that actually happened. So I think it’s, again, as responsible gun ownership and keeping the guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have guns and that everybody who sees something says something,” the Chief added.

Aggressive Police Tactics

When commercial fishers throw large nets out into the sea, they often catch vulnerable sea creatures they didn’t indent to catch. In these cases, the fishermen usually throw these creatures back into the water. Likewise, when police officers throw out large nets, they often catch vulnerable people. The difference is that, instead of letting them go, they usually prosecute these individuals.

A DUI or other STEP campaign is a good example. Usually, government grants pay for Selective Traffic Enforcement Program) campaign costs, such as officer overtime. Government investors, like private investors, expect a return on their investment. The “return” in a STEP campaign is a high number of arrests and prosecutions.

As a result, in these situations, police officers and prosecutors often take shortcuts. To a Tampa criminal defense lawyer, a shortcut usually means a procedural or substantive defense.

Some officers arrest suspects although the evidence is shaky. The evidence may be sufficient to establish probable cause, the standard for arrest. However, the evidence is insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard in court. More on that below.

Other officers commit procedural errors as they rush to make arrests. Fifth Amendment violations are a good example. Before they ask questions, police officers must inform suspects of their right to remain silent. When they don’t do so, any statements the defendant makes could be inadmissible in court. Any physical evidence police officers find (e.g. I know where the gun is) could be inadmissible as well. It’s fruit from a poisonous tree.

Violent Crime Defenses

Procedural defenses are available in violent crime cases. Usually a Tampa criminal defense lawyer can also use substantive and affirmative defenses to reduce or eliminate the harsh direct and indirect consequences of a violent crime conviction.

Usually, shootings and other such violent criminal cases rely heavily on eyewitnesses, who say they saw the crime, or at least part of the crime, and then pick the defendant out of a lineup.

Many eyewitnesses aren’t credible. Perhaps they witnessed events in the dark or at a distance, or perhaps they have racial or political biases for or against certain people or causes. Many lineup identifications aren’t credible either. Most people feel like they must pick someone out of a lineup. This pressure affects their judgment.

Affirmative defenses in violent criminal matters include coercion and self-defense. Coercion is particularly common in many gang-related violent crimes. Many of these defendants believe they must participate in the matter or they, or their friends or loved ones, will suffer reprisals. Florida’s self-defense law is very broad. Self-defense is basically a proportional use of force to stop an imminent threat.

Connect With a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.



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