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Tampa Citizens Review Board may not be operable until January

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As part of Mayor Bob Buckhorn‘s original executive order on a Citizens Review Board which would review Tampa Police Department policies and procedures, the goal has always been to have the full board meet for the first time in December.

That timeline maybe in jeopardy at the moment, however.

On Thursday, the Tampa City Council will take up the citizens review board ordinance being worked on both city attorney Julia Mandell and city council attorney Martin Shelby. The attorneys are taking Buckhorn’s executive order and transforming it into a city ordinance. If approved, it will require another hearing before the public before becoming law.

City Council Chairman Frank Reddick says that could happen on November 19. With the board off for Thanksgiving the following Thursday, that means it may not be until their December 3 before the board votes on the remaining four members to serve on the main nine-person agency.

For over a month, the issue over the composition of who was able to choose the members of the board stalled the process. Members of the community expressed their dismay at Buckhorn’s initial proposal, which would give him the power to name seven of the nine members of the working CRB, as well as select two alternates. Several members of the City Council expressed opposition to that as proposal as well, with Reddick calling for a proposal that would allow the council to have seven selections (one for each member), and the mayor have eight.

Buckhorn considered that “unwieldy,” but ultimately backed down and offered the council two more selections. That means the council gets four choices (representing each quadrant of the city), with Buckhorn getting five, and two alternates. He named his choices two weeks ago.

“I’ve gotten the lists and broken them down by districts and sent copies to all of the council members,” Reddick said on Tuesday. “It’s just a matter of scheduling it and putting it on their agenda. But before we do that, we have to have a first reading and have the second reading that ratifies the ordinance.”

Required qualifications for the Citizen Review Board include completing the official application form, passing a background check, successfully completing the Citizens Police Academy, completing a minimum of three hours to “ride-a-longs” in each of TPD’s three districts, being able to attend at least three-quarters of the meetings scheduled annually, and be at least 18 years of age.

The most notable omission among the appointees that Buckhorn named to the CRB last month was a lack of diversity on age; none of the board members seem to be younger than 40 years old, at a minimum.

Buckhorn’s original proposal states that the mayor “hoped” to have the board in place by December. His spokesperson, Ashley Bauman, confirmed that this morning, writing that, “(It) has to be flexible because we don’t know when council is going to appoint their members.”

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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