NewsPolk County


Winter Haven public safety advisory committee will provide police transparency

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Posted at 5:54 PM, May 03, 2021

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — It’s your chance to improve police transparency in Polk County.

In an ongoing effort to be more transparent and build the relationship between the community and police, the City of Winter Haven is looking for community members to serve on a new Public Safety Community Advisory Committee.

The committee will consist of nine people and two alternates, with the power to ask the police department questions about decisions that were made and make suggestions.

“They’ll look at specifically training with how we train best practices. They’ll look at the use of force complaints. They’ll look at closed internal affairs investigations,” said Charles Bird, Public Safety Director.

Bird tells ABC Action News the committee will not be able to mandate actions or launch new investigations.

The city is looking for leaders in the community like small-business owners, church leaders and those involved in local nonprofits. Young people are especially encouraged to apply.

“If the nine individuals understand the severity of their job as members of the committee, I do believe that it would be a major step in the right direction. It would be a start to reconcile the communication and dialogue between law enforcement and the community,” said Pastor Carl Soto, Vice President of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk.

The city said the advisory committee will help bridge the gap for those residents who are not comfortable interacting with police.

“For those people that we’re not connecting with to be able to bring their concerns and complaints or whatever it is to the police department through one of those committee members,” Bird said.

Applications closed on May 31.