NAACP, ACLU and Tampa Bay law enforcement announce plan to address calls for police reform

Six county law enforcement agencies have signed on.

click to enlarge Police on May 31, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Police on May 31, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

The Hillsborough NAACP continues its call for a major overhaul of Tampa's mostly toothless Citizen Review Board (CRB), but today it took a separate step towards reforming policing in the Tampa Bay area.

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis said her organization and the ACLU are working with six county law enforcement agencies—including Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff—to begin addressing community demands on policing.

The announcement comes as calls for defunding or abolishing the police grow louder and less than 12 hours after activists laid into Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan at a Tuesday night night meeting of the CRB.

“We continue to call for a real Citizen Review Board in Tampa that is not controlled by the mayor,” Lewis, wrote in a release, “but we are happy to begin a separate dialogue on policing practices with local law enforcement agencies that we hope will bring some much needed change to our community.”

As it stands, Castor can nominate five voting members and two alternates to the CRB while City Council picks four other members. Critics of the board want City Council to have more control over the board makeup and the power to endow the board with more independence.

Representatives from the Temple Terrace Police Department, University of South Florida Police Department and Plant City Police were in attendance at Wednesday's press conference in addition to TPD and the Hillsborough Sheriff.

During the press conference, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who is up for re-election, said that monthly meeting will eventually become quarterly, but that it was also ready to meet for a one-off if an event calls for an emergency meeting.

"This board is about action, accountability and trust through transparency," Chronister said. "This board is about and introspective look into our departments to see how we can improve... and how much work has to be done."

According to the release, law enforcement contacted the NAACP for a meeting earlier this month. The Tampa City Council said it will discuss the possibility of an independent CRB at a July workshop, but in the meantime, law enforcement agencies have agreed to meet the ACLU and NAACP monthly and enact a few initial policy changes.

From the release:

Duty to Intervene All officers would have a duty to intervene and stop other officers when they witness the use of excessive force or a violation of other Standard Operating Procedures. All officers would also have a duty to report the use of excessive force or other violations of the Standard Operating Procedures. The required report will be filed without any retaliation.

FDLE Oversight When a fatal shooting or an an in custody death occurs in Hillsborough County, an independent investigator from the FDLE will be appointed to investigate the fatality. At the conclusion of the investigation and/or prosecution, the independent investigator shall provide a report to the public with the findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Uniform Policies and Procedures for all Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Departments Implement Uniform Policies, Procedures, and Training Concerning Crowd Control at Protests

A. Present uniform protest and crowd control training so all law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County handle lawful protests and crowd control in a uniform manner.

B. Require Officers to Engage in Uniform De-escalation Training: Train all Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies to utilize uniform de-escalation techniques and require continuing education periodically in the use of those techniques.

C. Ban the Use of Chokeholds and Neck Restraints: Ban the use of Chokehold and Neck Restraints, unless someone’s life is in immediate peril.

D. Require Exhaustion of all Non-Lethal Force Options. All officers will be regularly trained on to how to exhaust all non-lethal force options, when possible, to avoid the use of lethal force. E. Annual Implicit Bias Education, Training and Re-training. Annual education and re-education programs to make officers aware of the problems associated with implicit biases and training them in techniques to overcome such biases.

Expanded Use of Body Cameras and Squad Car Cameras Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies will endeavor to expand the use of body cameras and squad car cameras and will seek funding to do so.

Continue and Expand Community Policing Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies will continue to use community policing techniques, in addition to regularly consulting with local leaders on innovative ways to build trust and improve the relationship with the community.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor discussed a few of these reforms last Friday.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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