Police reform took center stage after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer last May, and Tampa moved to make some changes in the year since then.
"In 5 days, it will be the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. The fact that we are still here talking about police reform is quite frankly disappointing to me," said Chief Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department.
Dugan said more oversight will be immediately added to the city’s citizens review board, who are residents involved in the department’s process and review any potential wrongdoing.
"[There will be] complaint filing and tracking system where we will share with our CRB complaints that we have on officers and where they stand in the investigation and what the status of that investigation is," said Dugan.
TPD also added an interview panel for potential officers and replaced the board’s attorney with someone not connected to Tampa police. They will also left the CRB know of any use of force policy changes, Dugan said.
"What we feel is needed is closure. We need to accept these changes, these advancements with the CRB, so that they can be more effective," said Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa.
The changes come after a year of the mayor, TPD and city council trying to move forward on changes to the citizen's review board. But the chief and mayor said the council wasn’t moving fast enough, so they took action themselves.
City council members want to discuss more changes, including a discussion of whether to expand the CRB’s powers with subpoenas, adding an independent attorney to the CRB and switching up the allotted number of how many appointments city council members and the mayor are allowed to have to the CRB. The mayor and the police chief said they disagree on how to go about some of those measures.
"I can tell you from what I’ve read, it’s getting tougher and tougher to recruit individuals to go into law enforcement. And the reason is they’re judged on something that’s 1/100th of a second decision that they have to make that you and I don’t have to make," said Charlie Miranda, Tampa city council member for District 2 during Thursday’s council meeting.
While the mayor, TPD and city council may have to work on agreeing to further changes, the mayor said the city needed these new steps.
"I think that the community should take comfort in that, and they should also be assured that they have a good, responsive and trustworthy police department," said Castor.