Tampa City Council Votes To Move Forward With Police Review Board
Tampa's city council voted late Thursday night to move forward with a citizen police review board that will review internal affairs cases and police policies.
The council will appoint four members of the board, two more than Mayor Bob Buckhorn originally proposed. The mayor will appoint the remaining five members and two alternates.
It took months to create the board because the mayor and council members couldn't agree on how many citizens each should appoint.
A 5-2 vote put the issue to rest.
Buckhorn said he's happy with the outcome.
"I think it was a good compromise,” Buckhorn said. “I think it will put this issue to rest and allow us to move forward with a board that will reflect the diversity of this community and that will be productive."
But not everyone is pleased. Two council members voted against the board, including Council Chair Frank Reddick, who had proposed a 15-member board with seven members, one appointed by each council member.
Reddick is concerned that the mayor has too much power to choose appointees, and that’ll affect public perception of what’s supposed to be a balanced unbiased board.
“The mayor is the chief law enforcement officer of the city, and they also have the deputy chief of the Tampa Police Department that’s going to be the coordinator that oversees the board, gives them directions and monitors the activities,” Reddick said.
“It's going to seem as though this is a board that is controlled by the police department and the mayor’s office and I think the perception is going to be not good,” Reddick said.
The city attorney will draft an ordinance that will be heard the first week in November. It will set up the board.
Buckhorn said the board will probably begin meeting monthly by the first of the year.
City council began pushing for a board this summer in response to the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation of the Tampa Police Department.
Thousands of tickets were issued to mostly black bicyclists for minor infractions.
Members of the Citizen Review Board will review disciplinary complaints and other issue, report findings to the police chief, and make policy recommendations.
Buckhorn said there are bound to be issues in any large organization.
"In an organization as large as the Tampa Police Department, which is over a thousand men and women, there will be bad cops,” Buckhorn said. “And there will be circumstances where there will be interactions with the public that are not up to the standards we expect."
The city has received more than 100 applications to serve on the board. The deadline to apply is Oct. 15.