Tampa policing task force discusses progress improving relationship with community

Moments after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the killing of George Floyd, members of Tampa’s Community Task Force on Policing met for an update on efforts to reform the department and promote transparency. 

The meeting was previously scheduled, but its timing was not lost on attendees. 

"The unfortunate part of all of it is that it doesn’t bring George Floyd back," said Tampa mayor and former chief of police Jane Castor. "But what may become his legacy is a change in policing nationwide and that focus on law enforcement where everybody, as we have been doing for several months. Everybody is involved and everybody understands the level of responsibility and everybody is willing to step up and to help out and this is the start for us."

Last fall, TPD teamed up with researchers from USF’s criminology department to lead group meetings between Tampa police, local leaders, community activists, and subject-matter experts to increase transparency and improve the way officers interact with the community.  

RELATED: Bay Area activists, leaders, citizens reflect on justice after Chauvin trial verdicts

The task force came up with 17 key findings for the Tampa Police Department to implement. 

TPD Chief Brian Dugan says his department first began to focus on de-escalation training.  On Tuesday, he explained those efforts are ongoing. The department hopes to have all members complete ICAT -- or Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics -- a national training program developed by the Police Executive Research Forum. 

"It’s all based upon communication, reassessing the situation and de-escalation," said Dugan. 

Other department changes include a mental health co-response program between TPD and local healthcare providers, a more in-depth review for allegations of officer misconduct, and a new transparency webpage where anyone can track calls for service, crime data, and traffic stops.  

The department has also issued 708 body-worn cameras to its officers. Publics records requests to review footage can be made through a link on the city’s home page

For more on the Mayor’s Community Task Force on Policing and to see the changes USF researchers have tracked, head to: www.tampa.gov/task-force-on-policing.