This Is How Much Fort Lauderdale Police Are Spending on Critical Mass

Categories: Broward News

James Argyropoulos
It seemed like the police in South Florida had it out this summer for Critical Mass, the end-of-the-month group bike ride that takes place in hundreds of cities across the world.

In Miami, Police Chief Manuel Orosa told reporters the mass had been taken over by "anarchists" and said organizers could be held "liable." In Fort Lauderdale, police decided to ride alongside the mass, which led to Dan Littell, a 30-year-old accountant, getting tackled by an officer. Ra Benjamin, a 23-year-old from Sunrise, also says he was knocked off his bike by an angry cop.

See also: Scores of Cops Descend Upon Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass, but Only One Arrest (Video)

Police were integrated into the ride in other cities with no problem. In Cleveland, for instance, a police escort began following alongside the ride in June. Representatives for the mass say the cops are to thank for providing such a safe evening. The mayor even provided free breakfast as a gesture of good will.

In other cases, threats of a crackdown were just that. Although riders in Miami were fearful of Orosa's "anarchist" comment, the ride was not ticketed en masse.

In Fort Lauderdale, though, tensions seemed to escalate when the ride was put under scrutiny. After a violent May and a peaceful June, the cycling community was up in arms after police arrested their beloved spokesperson, Ray Strack.

Riders maintain that the officer leading the ride was forcing them to go an unsafe distance. The cops say Strack was acting "very defiant" as he tried to negotiate with police. A video shows people pleading for mercy as Strack, who has a fractured T9 vertebrae, was put into handcuffs.

This third altercation caused a woman who goes by Rosita Vee on Facebook to ask: "How much money are taxpayers spending on so many officers to harass people on bikes?"

During May's initial ride-along, the police presence was all on-duty personnel, according to Kim Rhodes, public records coordinator for FLPD. In June, the lull month, the department billed $2,700.85 in overtime to the city, records show. In July, when Strack was arrested, that amount was $1,943.12.

"There's not a magic dollar amount," says James Musters, an active part of Critical Mass for the past year and a half. "I think that the obvious thing to do is spend as little as possible and get the events you want. The police want an organized ride, and we know the ride can run reasonably well with ten police. Do you need 30 or 40? Probably not."

Musters says he expects the police will scale down their spending in the future, noting that their presence prevents angry motorists from trying to plow into the ride.

When asked about plans, Fort Lauderdale Police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw said the department does not release details of its operations. She also declined to say how many officers were present at the ride during a given month.

"I'm not opposed to them being there," cyclist Musters adds. "But we need better communication. [The police] need to understand how the ride works internally."

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

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markie19 topcommenter


7 minutes ago

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You should ask mayor Jack Seiler why he fabricated a story of an assault on a motorist by a cyclist. He used this story to get the FLPD involved in Critical Mass. 


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frankd4 topcommenter

the city REALLY doesn't have the capacity for bicycles = period = but FT LIQUORDALE cannot admit to the world the fact that we have no PUBLIC SAFETY  in place for these kinds of activities

DO YOU KNOW how often i see a family of bicyclists visiting from other countries trying to cross FEDERAL HIGHWAY at 17th STREET ? the brochures are totally bogus !

Even the beach is UNSAFE for bicycle rides


The thing is @James Kendall is it is not a protest ride.  In Ft Lauderdale it is one night in the month that myself and my family can go and safely ride our bikes on the cities streets.  The streets, that being a lifetime resident, I have helped pay for.  I am not alone in this there are about 800-1000 other people who ride with me.  If the City, County and State really got behind this and had a Night Out on Your Bikes, it would easily be 10,000 other people.  Everyone I talk with wants to ride there bikes, they are just afraid of getting killed by motorists not paying attention.

Think about when you were a kid and how much fun you had riding your bike.  Guess what ,it is still that much fun.  So get on a bike and come join us.

Ethan Mazer
Ethan Mazer

Fuck you! What the hell is wrong with people getting together to ride bikes once a month... Its a positive healthy social thing to do. Could it be the 5 min of inconvenience they cause you while you're in your car?

Δημήτρης Παπαδημητρίου
Δημήτρης Παπαδημητρίου

Funny thing is no one asked or *needed* the police presence. The Critical Mass bike ride has been fine without escorts for years. The city/police decided on that course of action. If you are upset with how much tax dollars are being spent, be upset with your city officials.

James Kendall
James Kendall

I'm so thrilled that our tax dollars are being set on fire so these morons can ride their little bikes in a circle and pretend they're activists. #goaway #uassholes

frankd4 topcommenter


fugetaboudit - FT LIQUORDALE does not want to bicycle riders = period

it does want to promote and market itself as bicycle friendly BUT that is a BOGUS claim made to screw tourists

SethPlatt topcommenter

Moronic statements like that are why these protests and education campaigns are important. Fort Lauderdale is ground zero to the pedestrian death capital of America.

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