Saturday, October 03, 2009

Fort Lauderdale cops cleared of charges
they unfairly targeted homeless people

Broward prosecutors have dismissed a claim that Fort Lauderdale police officers unfairly targeted homeless people to win days off or gift cards to a movie theater.

The complaints were brought last year by veteran officer Michael Hennessy, who said senior officers developed incentives that resulted in the unfair treatment of homeless people in Fort Lauderdale.

Officers were promised time off in return for three arrests during a shift, or four during two consecutive shifts, and a point system was devised for enforcement actions. A day off would be earned for 70 points. And a scavenger hunt was developed, giving officers a list of tasks to complete and promising a $50 gift card to Regal Cinema.

Hennessy said one item on the scavenger hunt was a homeless person violating the open container law with an alcoholic drink other than Natural Ice beer. "If you were homeless and you happened to be drinking a beer other than Natural Ice, you were a target," he said. "How is that fair?"

The police department never disputed the existence of the incentives over a brief period in 2008, but has consistently denied that they were unfair.

Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel report here.


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