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Council members deny subpoena powers for the Tampa Police review board

Exterior shot of the Tampa Police Department building
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
Tampa City Council members voted down a plan that would let voters decide whether a citizens board overseeing the police department can subpoena witnesses. There were concerns about giving an unelected board that much power.

Tampa City Council members expressed concerns about giving the unelected board that much power.

Tampa City Council members voted down a plan this week that would let voters decide whether a citizens board overseeing the police department can subpoena witnesses. There were concerns about giving an unelected board that much power.

The move would have put the power to issue subpoenas on a future ballot for city residents to decide. But it won't make it that far, after only three council members voted in favor — short of a majority.

Backers said it would give more "teeth" to a board that has been lacking in its ability to effectively oversee the city's police department.

But opponents said it would give the volunteer board the power to summon people to appear, with the threat of penalties if they don't show.

Councilman Charlie Miranda voted against the move.

"It's time we step up and do our due diligence ourselves," he said. "We have subpoena power. This council has subpoena power. And I don't believe personally that it should be given to another board that was never elected."

The review board allows residents to look into disciplinary cases involving city police officers.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.