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Tampa civil rights leaders concerned Citizen Review Board overhaul will be vetoed by mayor

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Posted at 6:42 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 20:00:23-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The fight over who has legislative control over Tampa's Citizen Review Board is taking center stage.

“The change is here the change is now, we’re demanding and asking for change with the Citizen Review Board,” said Yvette Lewis, Hillsborough County NAACP President.

Tampa civil rights groups are applauding the City Council vote to overhaul the Citizen Review Board. Last week council members passed an ordinance to give themselves control over seven appointments to the 11-member volunteer advisory board.

The move comes after a year of discussions to revamp the CRB following the murder of George Floyd, which sparked protests calling for transparency within the Tampa Police Department.

“The truth is the mayor has not done anything to address the concerns of the people who were protesting in the streets. An independent and is simple way to hold TPD accountable,” said Bernice Lauredan with Tampa Dream Defenders.

Tampa civil rights groups believe a review board not controlled by the mayor, will allow more accountability and trust.

“The Tampa Police department and police in general reputation have been stained. In order for us to remove that stain we have to bring in the voices of the community that can speak truth to power,” said Connie Burton, with Tampa for Justice.

They worry Mayor Jane Castor will veto the decision.

ABC Action News caught up with the mayor. She said council members have discussed giving the CRB subpoena power and its own lawyer, which she opposes.

“To have subpoena power you’re giving civilians the ability to subpoena any other resident in the city to subpoena their private videos to subpoena all of those things,” Mayor Jane Castor said.

Meanwhile, the mayor and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced a list of reforms that will go into effect, including a citizen interview panel for prospective officers and a complaint filing and tracking system.

On June 17, the ordinance will go back for a second reading then will be voted on by the city council.