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Bob Buckhorn to offer Tampa City Council additional member in civilian review board situation

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

When the Tampa City Council convenes on Thursday afternoon to discuss who will select the nine members and two alternates to the proposed police civilian review board, they will have a new proposal presented to them by Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Buckhorn briefed the media on Wednesday that he will propose a change to his original executive order and call for the board to consist of five members be chosen by him, and four by the council, with the mayor controlling the two alternates.

It’s a change that he hinted at last Friday afternoon, after he and City Council Chairman Frank Reddick met for the first time since the controversy erupted regarding who would name the members of the board, which would review completed disciplinary cases and issues of importance or interest to the community and the Police Department.

Reddick has maintained from the jump that he prefers a 15-member board, with Buckhorn getting eight selections and the council  seven, or one selection apiece for the seven-member board.

Other council members have spoken more generally about getting more power over the original 11-member board that the mayor listed in his August 28 executive order.

“You’ve got the right as an elected official to choose who is going to represent you, and who is going to represent the city on that board,” Reddick said in a press conference outside of City Hall. “I will not back down from seven members being appointed by the board.”

Buckhorn has stated as recently as last week that he thinks the nine-person main board is the appropriate size, saying that a 15-member board would be “too unwieldy.”

Reddick said he receives emails “all the time” and fields complaints from members of the community how they’re treated through the Tampa Police Department’s Internal Affairs process.

“They feel that’s police investigating police, and they want to be able to say, ‘well, we want an independent, non-police board in order to have that voice.'”

Before Reddick spoke, members of the group Tampa for Justice again asked for an independent review board that has subpoena powers, something that Mayor Buckhorn has said is a non-starter.

City Attorney Julia Mandell is expected to announce the newly proposed civilian review board composition at tomorrow evening’s council meeting. Although Reddick doesn’t like the compromise, at least two members of council said in recent weeks that they would accept a 5-4 split in terms of choosing appointees to the board.

The mayor’s original proposal was for him to name seven of the nine members of the main board, and both alternates, giving the council just two selections. That did not go down well with most council members, nor members of the public who have doggedly attended council meetings over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, an attorney with the Tampa Police Benevolent Association is still insisting that there ought not be any civilian review board in Tampa.

“As you are probably aware, rank and file police officers and police management generally oppose civilian review boards,” writes TPBA attorney R. Jeffrey Stull to Tampa City Council attorney Martin Shelby.

He then goes on to refer to such a board as “simply another layer of bureaucratic red tape designed to satisfy the concerns of a small segment of society that has no trust in institutions,” adding, “that same segment will never be satisfied.”

Stull continues to lay waste to the whole concept, writing that the “whole premise is misguided” and mocks the idea of the Council getting to choose who serves on the committee, writing that “it would be like the United States Senate not only approving the appointments of federal Judges, but also having the power to appoint some of them independent from the president.”

The council will discuss the various proposals regarding the civilian review board at its evening meeting on Thursday, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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