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Tampa leaders looking to increase power of citizen's review board, diversity of police department

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Posted at 5:07 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 17:39:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. — City of Tampa leaders are looking to increase the power of the Tampa Police Department's Citizen Review Board as well as diversity within the police department.

City leaders requested Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan to provide a report about diversity numbers within the police department. In it, TPD looked at all of the 938 people on the force as of August 31, 2020.

  • Of those 938 people, 286 people consider themselves a minority. That is 31% of the entire police force.
  • In leadership positions, 33% of police captains and 15% of police lieutenants employed with the department identify as minorities.
  • When it comes to the 619 police officers on the streets, just 95 of those are women.
  • Overall, 189 of the total number of police officers identify as a minority, or 32%. This includes both male and female police officers.

This comes as the Tampa Police Department said within that same report that they are focusing on building strong relationships with military bases, including MacDill Air Force Base, to recruit law enforcement officer candidates who include women and minorities.

Dugan also said the department should turn to historically Black colleges and universities to recruit candidates for law enforcement positions.

This comes as the City of Tampa is looking to expand the power of the Tampa Police Department's Citizens Review Board or CRB.

The Citizens Review Board was formed "to enhance trust between the Tampa Police Department and the community it serves by creating an unbiased panel of citizens to review completed disciplinary cases and issues of importance or interest to the community and the Police Department," according to the city.

Some local leaders have called for the board to have more authority. Following the death of George Floyd, the Citizens Review Board met in July, where the board broke from the agenda to listen to nearly four hours of public comment.

CONTINUING COVERAGE | Tampa Citizen Review Board listens to nearly 4 hours of public comment demanding change

Speakers recounted their experiences in recent protests, describing the police’s response. They spoke about racial inequality. They called for reallocating and redirecting funds. They criticized the mayor and police chief, called for police accountability and passionately demanded change.

Now, city leaders have asked the city attorney to look at what the city can legally do to expand the power of the board. Some of the changes Tampa City Council has requested include:

  • Authorizing the CRB to review certain pending internal investigations and be able to provide findings and a recommendation to the chief of police prior to the imposition of discipline
  • Authorize the CRB to review hiring, criteria and participate in a new interview panel where the board has input on the evaluation and hiring of new police officers
  • Have the Citizens Review Board be notified monthly of complaints against the Tampa Police Department and created a Complaint Tracking System
  • Notify the CRB of new use of force policies or changes
  • Provide workshops to train the CRB topics
  • Provide for additional qualification requirements for CRB members
  • Expand the number of members on the CRB and appoint members from external organizations
  • Require CRB to conduct a Community Survey every 3 years
  • Create and maintain a CRB website

City leaders are also looking to provide additional qualification requirements for Citizen Review Board members and expand the number of people who serve on it.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association argued Thursday that these additional recommendations provide the CRB with plenty of power.

They look at use of force cases, they make recommendations, and this just seems like a bit of a power grab," said Matt Puckett, with the Florida PBA.

Tampa City Council and the ACLU argued, however, that the city considered giving the CRB subpoena power and their own independent attorney.

"There are very few places anymore where you can be outside that you are not on somebody's camera, and it is vital that the CRB should be able to obtain such footage. Without subpoena power, the people and the businesses who have such footage would have no obligation to share it," said James Michael Shaw, Jr., with the Florida ACLU.

The city attorney said those items are not legally possible under the current CRB charter. However, several city council members argued otherwise.

“We, city council, have the right to do whatever we want with this. We can rewrite it, we can start a new one,” said Tampa City Council Member Bill Carlson.

The Tampa City Council asked City Attorney Gina Grimes to come back on Nov. 19 with an adjusted draft of recommendations for the council.

In the meantime, the Tampa City Council plans to look at ways they can rewrite the current CRB charter.