Tampa begins taking applications for police review board

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The City of Tampa is now accepting applications for its new Citizens Review Board, which will provide reviews and recommendations to the Tampa Police Department.

Applications will be accepted through October 15, at 5 p.m.

Eight of the eleven members, including nine voting members and two alternates, will be chosen by Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Two will be voted on by Tampa City Council.

"Crime in the city of Tampa is down 60%, which is almost unparalleled in the country. Do we have challenges? Sure we do. Can we make it better? Absolutely, we can. We hope the folks we put on this board are focused on that, and not on some other agenda," said Mayor Buckhorn.

The mayor said he plans to select members who are neither anti-police, nor pro-police. He said he wants "citizens, not activists," to compile the board.

"Finding that balance allows me, as the mayor, to do what's right for the city, not what is the short term decision for a few people," said Buckhorn.

City Council members have been vocal about wanting a larger say in who is selected for the board. They plan to hold a workshop on September 24 to discuss a plan that would allow council members to vote on seven of the 11 members of the board.

Mayor Buckhorn said according to the city's charter, council has legislative power, while the mayor has executive power, meaning he has control over selecting city employees. He said council members going against his executive order made in late August would be unlawful.

"We signed an executive order. That executive order is in place. There's nothing the city council can do to that or about that," said Buckhorn, "City council has no jurisdiction over the day-to-day operations of the city. They can't intervene on employee issues."

"You can get any book and read a paragraph, and your interpretation might be different than mine, so we might not agree on the same interpretation based on what we read," said Councilman Frank Reddick, "so we'll  leave that up to the legal people to make that decision."

The mayor added that the review board will not have the power to subpoena officers while an investigation or disciplinary process is underway due to a policemen's bill of rights at the state level.

To apply for the citizens review board, applicants must meet the following requirements:

-        Completion of the official application

-        Passing a background check

-        Successfully complete the Citizens Police Academy

-        Complete a minimum of three hours to "ride-a-longs" in each of TPD's three   districts

-        Attend three-quarters of the meetings scheduled annually

-        Be at least 18 years of age

The Review Board's monthly meetings will be televised and open to the public. Mayor Buckhorn hopes to have the Board in place by December.

"I just want people who care about this community, who don't approach these issues with a bias, either pro-police or anti-police," said Buckhorn, "who recognize that this is not Ferguson, this is not Baltimore, this is Tampa, and the dynamics here are very, very different, fortunately."

Those interested in applying can find the application and additional information at www.tampagov.net.