The Tampa City Council today moved ahead toward the creation of a citizens police review board, but what that agency will ultimately look like and who will appoint its members has yet to be determined.
The Council approved a motion brought forward by Councilman Mike Suarez that will have the city’s legal department review whether the Council can create such an advisory committee, and if so, can it be a hybrid review committee, with the powers to do so under the City Charter.
“An advisory committee gives advice on how to change something,” Councilman Suarez said after the vote. “A review is: you’ve done something, I’m going to order you what to do.”
The measure was brought before the Council today by Chairman Frank Reddick, who said he did so because he believes in creating accountability and transparency for the police. He also said that citizens in his East Tampa District 5 area feel they have no voice currently to register their complaints with the police department. “They don’t trust what’s in place now.”
That sentiment was backed up by the approximately 20 people who came before the Council to support Reddick’s call for a civilian review board, none more poignant than Lena Young-Green, whose husband, Arthur Green Jr., died while being detained by police in a driving incident in 2014. Though the police claimed he was acting erratic, in fact he was a diabetic having a seizure. The Green family (who are suing the city over the incident) has made it an objective since then that their patriarch will not have died in vain as they attempt to address what they claim are deficiencies in how the department operates.