TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Several groups in Tampa are calling for more transparency and accountability ahead of a city council meeting this week. They want to see changes to the city’s Citizens Review Board.
The Citizens Review Board was formed to increase trust between the Tampa Police Department and the community. During a press conference Sunday, those groups called for the board to have subpoena power.
On Tuesday, the city council will decide whether to put that question on the ballot in March of 2023. Groups supporting this move say it’s needed, as the board reviews cases of police misconduct.
“How can people trust results when the evidence isn’t made available to them?” Joseph Nohava with Tampa Bay Community Action Committee said. “We’re thinking that the CRB is here to do a job right to increase trust and accountability. Well, it seems to me that they can only do that with the full breadth of evidence before them.”
Tampa Police Department sent 8 On Your Side the statement below:
“Since its establishment in 2015, the Tampa Police Department has worked hand-in-hand with the Citizens Review Board (CRB), providing its members with case information needed to foster a relationship of transparency and enhancing its authority by allowing CRB members to participate in our hiring process at the interview phase, providing a monthly complaint filing and tracking system, permitting and welcoming the board to participate in use of force policy changes, and participating in joint meetings and workshops between the police department, PBA, ACLU and other community activist organizations to further discuss areas for growth in policing. With these factors, and the recent addition of a CRB independent attorney, we believe the organization has what it needs to be productive, create meaningful change if the need arises, and be an asset to our community without burdening taxpayers with costs that will arise from more added changes.”
A city of Tampa spokesman also sent 8 On Your Side a statement ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
“This is a completely unnecessary proposal supported by a small but vocal group of defund-the-police activists that would send the message that Tampa residents don’t support our outstanding police department. This subpoena power proposal would not give the CRB authority to subpoena police officers, but it would give an unelected volunteer board the power to force any resident of Tampa to appear, testify, and produce private text messages, emails and videos under the threat of civil or criminal penalties. That is an extreme step that would threaten the civil liberties of our neighbors, family and friend.”
“If you’re not trying to hide anything, if you’re not trying to protect anyone, then this should be sufficient,” President of the Hillsborough branch of the NAACP Yvette Lewis said.
Tampa City Council has a special called meeting November 1st at 9:00 a.m.