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City commissioners, activists struggle to find common ground on Police Citizens Review Board

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 17:19:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Tallahassee Community Action Committee is calling the new Police Citizens Advisory Board that was just approved unanimously by city commissioners toothless.

The idea is to hold police accountable, but TCAC says what's in place won't be able to do that.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson says they're giving the people what they want to the fullest extent of the law.

"We've been shown over and over again that these review boards are toothless," said Lakey Love with TCAC. "That they don't do anything."

Tallahassee Community Action Committee says the new TPD Citizens Advisory Board isn't what the people want.

The group will be made up of nine people. Five commissioners and the mayor will pick, along with four picked by community groups.

Love says that's part of the problem.

"The five to four ratio shows the city will win every time on a vote if there is one," Love said.

TCAC wants a board voted up by the community with subpoena authority.

Commissioner Richardson says that's not exactly possible right now.

"We can't do that," said Richardson. "That's only something that the legislature could bestow upon that citizen group They also asked for an independently-elected body. That could only be done through a change in our city charter and that would have to be done by the voters in the city."

Love also says even what they'll be doing is problematic.

"The notion that there's going to be TPD training and ridealongs is also prejudicial," said Love. "If this is supposed to be for the community, what they should be doing is community ridealongs."

Richardson says commissioners asked the city attorney to look into best practices of review boards across the state before coming up with their plan and swears the city is trying their best to give the people what they want.

"It's a first step toward police reform in our community," Richardson said. "It will be made up of citizens that reflect the diversity of the community and it will be an independent body."

TCAC says they will continue to push for an open vote on a Citizen's Review Board and plan to do so in public meetings up until it's instilled.

The city says the application process is still yet to be determined.