Civil rights teams assist TPD assessment board revamp

Activists welcome changes to the TPD Review Board

Aaron Mesmer reports

Civil rights groups are calling on Tampa leaders to make changes to the Police Department’s Citizens Review Committee. The problem is that the city council is running against Mayor Jane Castor.

Last week councilors approved a plan to change the composition of the CRB. If the proposal is finally approved, the council will appoint seven members to the eleven-member board.

Mayor Castor would appoint three members and the NAACP would choose the 11th.

Castor wanted an even division between her office and the city council.

The CRB was formed in 2015 after TPD was accused of attacking black cyclists while Castor was chief of police. But since then the group has been accused of being “toothless” with no real ability to oversee the police department.

Some community activists felt that this could be a way of giving “average people” more control over the CRB, in their view.

“We believe that it is not about transparency or accountability, but about control. And it should not be a CRB for the mayor or a specific individual, but for the people,” Julius Adams offered the ACLU.

“I think the CRB is very strong and that the Tampa Police Department is a wide open book. They want so much control; they want the community to be involved and they invited everyone. So I’m not sure where the sticking points are at, “countered Mayor Castor.

Last week, Chief Brian Dugan discussed the changes the department made over the past year, including banning chokeholds and requiring de-escalation and pre-firing warnings.

The boss believes he and his department have been extraordinarily transparent, and the mayor agrees. But civil rights groups want more control over how the department is run.

Unless the city council reverses course, these changes appear to be taking effect.

The Council will vote its final vote on June 17th.

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