Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Chief Eric Ward announce new Citizens Review Board
Today Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the creation of an independent panel of citizens to review cases and issues related to the Tampa Police Department (TPD) and to provide feedback and recommendations to the Chief of Police.
The 11-member Citizens Review Board, including nine voting members and two alternates, will review cases involving use of force and other cases that resulted in internal investigations, as well as issues of importance to the community and TPD.
“We have always welcomed citizen input and value transparency as a core value of city government,’’ said Mayor Buckhorn. “This Citizen Review Board is a Tampa solution that addresses the concerns of our community while balancing the desire of our neighborhoods for a safe city. The Tampa Police Department has reduced crime 60 percent over the last ten years. We welcome the community’s input to make a great department even better.”
The Board members will be volunteers who must be city residents or own a business in the city and will serve 4-year terms. Two of the voting members will be appointed by City Council, and the remaining members will be appointed by the Mayor, with the goal of creating a diverse panel of unbiased citizens to represent the City.
Mayor Buckhorn and Police Chief Eric Ward have spent time researching independent review boards, which have been implemented by numerous law enforcement agencies around the nation and are one of the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
In a meeting of the Tampa City Council earlier this month, Chief Ward expressed that he had reached out to several of his colleagues on the subject, and had meetings and conversations with community members who felt such a board could be an asset to TPD.
“This is an exciting step forward for our Department, in terms of openness and transparency,’’ said Chief Ward. “I often say that we work in partnership with the community to keep our city safe. This is taking that partnership to a new level, and we welcome the feedback.”
Chief Ward is developing an application process for citizens who wish to apply to be a member of the Board. Applicants will be subject to a background check, and must successfully complete the Tampa Police Citizens Academy, which involves a broad spectrum of training in law enforcement procedures as well as “ride alongs” with officers on patrol. Board members may not be a current elected official, a member of any law enforcement agency, or a city employee.
The Review Board’s monthly meetings will be televised and open to the public. Mayor Buckhorn hopes to have the Board in place by December.
For more details on the Citizens Review Board visit www.tampagov.net/police.
For additional information, please contact:
Christina Barker, Special Assistant to the Mayor