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Courts / Law

Tampa Black Leaders Call For Greater Police Oversight

NAACP press conference
Bradley George/WUSF Public Media
Representatives from the Hillsborough County NAACP and Florida ACLU speak at a press conference in front of Tampa City Hall on Wednesday.

Leaders in Tampa’s black community want an overhaul of the city’s police oversight board. Activists say changes are long overdue.  

Tampa’s citizen review board, created in 2015, examines internal investigations of officers. While the public can speak at meetings, the board doesn’t accept citizen complaints against the police department. Nor can it recommend policy changes. 

“It has no power,” says Yvette Lewis, president of the Hillsborough County NAACP. “There’s no accountability, no subpoena power, so nobody listens to it. They only come in after the investigation is done and complete and nobody has to report to it.” 

For years, the NAACP and other groups have pushed for changes. Those calls are taking on new urgency, following protests against racial injustice in Tampa and around the country in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

Lewis says she’s spoken with police chief Brian Dugan about possible reforms. WUSF reached out to Mayor Jane Castor’s office for comment, but has yet to receive a response.