Tampa voters will be able to decide on the matter on a March 2023 ballot.
TAMPA, FL – Yesterday, the Tampa City Council moved forward with plans to allow Tampa voters to decide on one important change to the city charter on the March 2023 ballot. This change would give the Citizen Review Board (CRB) the ability to have its own independent attorney. The city council blocked an additional proposal that would allow voters to decide whether the CRB should have the power to obtain important evidence with subpoenas. The fight for a CRB began in 2015, following a Tampa Bay Times report about the Tampa Bay Police Department targeting Black residents with unfair bicycle ticketing practices.
Joyce Hamilton, director of statewide initiatives at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following:
“The Citizen Review Board is an important tool for Tampa residents to hold the local government and police accountable. While we are pleased the city council voted to allow Tampa voters to decide on one important proposal, they rejected another proposal that together, could have begun to give the CRB the tools it needs to be responsive to our community’s attempt to address police misconduct and accountability.
“The proposal that will give the CRB the ability to have its own independent attorney will appear on the March 2023 ballot and it’s an important step forward. It will allow for more transparency, which will only help to foster trust between residents and police. Local grassroot organizations and advocates have been calling for this important change for years.
“The city council blocked a separate proposal to allow voters to decide whether the CRB should be able to obtain its own evidence. This power is critical to examining evidence related to police abuse, misconduct, and transparency. We are disappointed that the city did not give Tampa voters the opportunity to decide on this critical proposal, and will continue advocating for the CRB to have the full power to hold police in our city accountable.”
Tampa Bay Community Action Committee stated the following:
“Tampa voters gaining the right to vote on Independent Counsel for the Citizens Review Board is a historic democratic win for a city in the south! This win is sure to bring motivation for the fight for real accountability and transparency in Tampa. City Council (Miranda, Viera, Citro, Manisalco), Police Chief O’Connor, and Mayor Castor showed how terrified they were of losing power by scrambling for backdoor deals to take Power of Subpoena away from Tampa voters. The fight is far from over. Tampa Bay Community Action Committee is dedicated to winning all that can be won for the community to put safety into our own hands. Who knows what's best for a community than the community itself?”