City council to choose additional member of TPD Citizens Review Board

Activists tried one last time to convince Tampa City Council that it should appoint a majority of members to the Tampa Police Civilian Review Board.

"We need police departments that actually work with our community," said Artullio Gonzalez, the co-chair of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay.

Instead, the council voted for a 5-5 split with the mayor, and for both to sign off on an eleventh member appointed by the NAACP.

"We find out, time and time again, we can not trust you," Tampa resident Connie Burton told the council.

The previous makeup had been 7-4 in favor of the mayor.

"When you walk away from a negotiation feeling a little uneasy about it, you have won," said Darla Portman, the TPD PBA president.

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The citizens review board was created in 2015 after it was found Black bicyclists were more likely to be ticketed.

Since then, voices saying the board was only a rubber stamp for TPD internal reviews have grown louder. Especially, they say, because most members were being appointed by the mayor who was once police chief.

Councilors had voted for a 7-4 split, but went back on it after the mayor and current police chief warned it would hurt trust from TPD.

Councilor John Dingfelder voted ‘no.’

"The 7-4 is what the community wanted. We heard that for months and months," Dingfelder said during an interview after the meeting. "In May we voted for the 7-4, and then I believe the administration intruded on our legislative authority."

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The mayor's office and several councilors said the 5-5-1 split is an example of balanced governing.

Though activists are upset the board won't have subpoena power, the board will get updates on all internal affairs complaints and how use-of-force guidelines change.

Thursday's debate was largely over the mechanics of how the NAACP member will be appointed.

"I have no doubt in my mind that the NAACP will fight for all peoples of color," said councilor Joseph Citro. "No matter what the color be."

As for the NAACP appointment, both the mayor and city council will have full veto power over that person, with the mayor going first.

The board makeup will change after current members' terms of appointment end.