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Commissioners will create Citizen Review Board to increase transparency between TPD, community

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 07:44:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Tallahassee city commission is moving forward with its plans to start a citizen's review board.

Leaders met Wednesday where they approved guidelines on how the board will give more oversight into the police department.

Each of the 9 members will receive training on TPD policies and procedures along with attending TPD's citizen academy.

Each member will serve a staggered three year term.

The group will review and give recommendations in cases where excessive or deadly force is used.

At the request of the city manager or police chief, the group will also be able to provide policy changes.

An annual report will be submitted to the city commission and police chief.

Which will include summaries of community complaints and the board's and police chief's investigation into those issues.

The push for this board comes on the heels of three TPD involved shootings this year.

The most recent was Tony McDade at the Leon Arms apartment complex last month.

Police say an officer shot McDade after McDade pointed a gun at the officer.

Right now there is a push to release the videos and names of the officers involved in those shootings.

An injunction has been filed to protect those officer's names under, Marsy's law.

The citizen's review board would oversee similar cases to those 3-officer involved shootings.

There's no exact timeline for when the board will be formed.

Next month the city commission may allow public comment on this board process.

People are calling for change across the country and in the Capital City. We're seeing action from the City of Tallahassee following those calls for change.

Commissioners will start a citizen's review board to oversee what happens within the police department.

Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams Cox says this board is not going to keep officers from doing their jobs. What it will do is bring an added layer of transparency between officers and the communities they serve.

"The community has been asking for it for years," said Williams Cox. "When I came to the commission, I brought that with me."

Williams Cox says as she settled into the new position the call for a Citizen Review Board took a back seat. Until now, after three officer-involved shootings in Tallahassee since March.

"The timing is just right to start one," Williams Cox said.

Unlike TPD's citizens advisory committee that was selected by the police chief, this board will be selected by commissioners.

Kwame Gatlin is protesting for this kind of change, but wants to make sure it is done right.

"I think you do need to have people who look like me," said Gatlin. "Have a low socio-economic status. A diverse team."

Anyone interested in joining the board will go through a citizen's academy to see what police go through daily.

Board members will meet any time an officer is accused of using excessive force and come together after a grand jury has reviewed findings.

"This will give the citizens an opportunity and a level of comfort to know that it's going to get another look," said Williams Cox.

While the board will not able to subpoena or fire an officer, the ultimate goal is to make sure officers are being trained properly.

Some people say the officer-involved shootings are not the only reason a board like this is needed.

Katrina Hatchett is one of the many protesters seen in Tallahassee fighting for racial equality and a stop to police brutality.

"I'm probably one of the oldest people here," said Hatchett.

It's what's brought people of all ages out day after day, side by side, calling for change.

"It's time," Hatchett said. "Accountability has got to come into play at some point.

For protesters like Isaiah Taylor, it brings him some peace of mind knowing officers will be able to better handle any situation.

"This helps with people who have mental illness," Taylor said. "They may not fully comply with law enforcement. As someone with autism, it helps."

While plans for the board have not yet been finalized, we do know the group will likely be chosen by commissioners.

More details are expected to be discussed at their next meeting.