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City commissioners move one step closer to creating citizen review board

Board will oversee police interactions
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 18:27:04-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee City commissioners are moving forward with an ordinance to create a citizens review board for police interactions.

Following three officer-involved shootings in Tallahassee, activists and commissioners agree on two things: Now is the time for more oversight of the police but how to accomplish that is far from final.

Commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday to create a nine person citizen review committee.

Those individuals would be appointed by city commissioners and social and civic organizations.

Before the vote, commissioners received more than 300 public comments submitted from across the county as well as local organizations, like the Tallahassee Community Action Committee.

"What we do not want is a city commission-appointed citizens review board and we are extremely extremely disappointed," said Lakey Love, with TCAC.

Instead, they want a freely elected civilian police accountability counsel that would provide independence and autonomy from city leaders, as well as subpoena power.

Commissioners point out that they've created an inspector general role to accomplish added independence, that subpoenaing officers is Procter by law, and that any board would be able to affect lasting change would need access to the city commissioners budget.

"I received calls from people who agree with what we have, because we had nothing," said Diane Williams Cox, city commissioner. "And they understand that this is a step in the right direction. Is it perfect? Probably not, but we have an opportunity to make it as best as it can be."

"This is not a first step, this is five steps back," Love said. "Even the Cato Institute released a report in 2016 that said citizens review board, especially in the 14 states that have LEAH [Leadership Education in Adolescent Health] boards are basically powerless and uphold the status quo."

Both Cox and Love are looking forward to more community input and a final decision on implementation due in September.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for July 9 and will be held in person, unless Governor Ron Desantis extends his executive order.