TAMPA, Fla. — Only minutes after the Derek Chauvin verdict was read Tuesday, the Mayor’s Community Task Force on Policing met to discuss ongoing reform efforts within the Tampa Police Department.
While the meeting had been previously scheduled, the timing was no less profound.
“The unfortunate part of all of it is that, George Floyd, it doesn’t bring him back but what may become his legacy is a change in policing nationwide.”
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In the aftermath of Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020, Bryanna Fox, an associate criminology professor with the University of South Florida, tackled community concerns surrounding TPD.
“We’re really trying to underscore that in making sure that community and police relations improve in the future,” said Fox. “Evidence-based practices that I know are effective, I’ve seen it in the research, I know that these work.”
Fox and a team of 12 graduate students gathered community feedback and researched ways to improve local policing in areas like trust and transparency, oversight, and policy.
Since then, TPD activated its body camera program, expanded de-escalation training, and made arrest information, officer complaints, and calls for service publicly available online.
“Sometimes the public said, ‘we don’t know what the policies are, what are the procedures that Tampa Police Department operates by?’ One of the easier things was putting it all out on the website so any citizen can look at it and understand what are the rules that the Tampa Police Department uses when they’re operating as police officers.”
The 40-member task force was announced in July, following weeks of protests regarding police treatment of members of Black communities in Tampa.
Several groups took part in 4-hour sessions with key stakeholders including Black Lives Matter, NAACP Hillsborough County, business owners, neighborhood associations, and churches.
Yvette Lewis, with NAACP Hillsborough County, said Tuesday more work needs to be done in Tampa.
“It’s about accountability,” said Lewis. “We have gone through so many trials and tribulations in this city and they continue to overlook what we say.”