First appointees to the Tampa Police Citizens Review Board

- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has named the first group of appointees to the Tampa Police Citizens Review Board Monday, which he said represents a non-biased cross-section of the city.

The list includes a church leader, the former head of the Hillsborough County NAACP, an appellate court judge, a school administrator and a former prosecutor who is currently the chair of the board of Metropolitan Ministries.

"It's diverse. I think it reflects the voices of this community, in every sense of the word," Buckhorn said. "I wanted a board that was neither pro-police, nor an anti-police agenda and I think that we've found it with the folks that we've picked."

The mayor had said he would establish the board weeks ago after an outcry over the disproportionate number of bike tickets African-Americans were receiving.

The review board would be able to take a look at closed Internal Affairs investigations into cases that include use of force and police pursuits.

But several community activists who make up the organization "Tampa for Justice," including some who previously packed into contentious City Council meetings, aren't thrilled with the mayor's choices.

"They said that they sent out hundreds of applications, people signed up, but the board seems to be stacked with people that are his close, personal friends," said Kofi Hunt. "They might be established people in the community, but they're people that have direct relationships with him."

The mayor's plan does not give the board the powers of subpoena, the right to look at open investigations or the ability to punish officers found of wrongdoing -- still a sticking point with some activists.

"By the time the board gets an issue, or reviews an issue, the decision has been made," said Laila Abdelaziz, who works with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Tampa for Justice. "These board members will only get a case after it's been adjudicated. They won't be able to have hearings. They won't necessarily be able to independently investigate problems or complaints from the police department."

Buckhorn, however, is confident the majority of the community approve of the appointments.

"The [dissenting] voices that you heard don't reflect the voices of the entire community," he said.

The City Council still has to appoint four members, but has yet to determine how the choices will be made. The entire board is expected to be in place by December.

Mayor Buckhorn's appointees, listed below, include two alternates:

Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Banks, who has served for the past 23 years as pastor at St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and is the current President of the National Baptist Convention of American International Inc.

Dr. Carolyn Hepburn-Collins, who is the former President and current at-large Executive Committee member of the Hillsborough County NAACP.

Judge E.J. Salcines, a former appellate Court Judge serving the Florida Second District Court of Appeal.

Lincoln Tamayo, who has served as Head of School at Academy Prep Center of Tampa since its creation 13 years ago.

Robert Shimberg, who is a former prosecutor and is currently an attorney with the law firm Hill Ward Henderson and Chair or the Board of Metropolitan Ministries.

Lee Lowry is a Review Board alternate and is the former Junior League of Tampa President and currently serves as Director of Development and Communications at St. John's Episcopal Day School.

Bemetra Simmons, also an alternate, is BB&T's Hillsborough County Market President and Board member for Christian Brothers University.
 

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