At the June 17 meeting, the Tallahassee City Commission voted 5-0 to accept a recommendation from City Attorney Cassandra Jackson related to establishing a police citizen review board (PCRB). Two weeks ago, the City Commissioners unanimously voted to move forward creating a PCRB by providing direction to staff.
The creation of a citizen review board is in response to citizen requests and the City Commission preferred the PCRB be created by ordinance rather than resolution or policy to ensure permanence. This also means there will be public hearings.
The action comes after nationwide protests in response to police brutality. Throughout the Commission meeting, protestors gathered outside of City Hall. Tallahassee has seen three officer-involved shootings this year, including Tony McDade last week. The incidents are currently being reviewed by a grand jury.
The purpose of the PCRB will be to enable Tallahassee citizens to oversee policing practices and review events like officer-involved shootings.
Tallahassee City Attorney Cassandra Jackson recommended the following components of a PCRB based on a review of Florida review boards. The PCRB may:
1. Be composed of 9 members appointed by the City Commission, five appointed at large, and four appointed from social or civic community organizations;
2. Have members who serve non-compensated, staggered terms of three years, must not be a relative of any City employee, receive training on TPD policies and procedures, attend the TPD citizen academy and participate in a police ride-a-long;
3. Have authority to review and provide recommendations on completed internal affairs investigations, after any grand jury proceeding, involving the use of alleged excessive force and deadly force and review and provide recommendations on police policy at the request of the City Manager or Chief of Police or when a matter is brought to the attention of the Board; and
4. Prepare an annual report to the City Commission, the City Manager and the Chief of Police regarding PCRB’s reviews over the preceding year, to include statistics and summaries of citizen complaints, a comparison of board findings and conclusions with actions taken by the Chief of Police, and recommendations related to changes in policies and procedures.
The recommendation by the Tallahassee City Attorney noted:
To be effective, the review board cannot be political. Each member must genuinely represent the community or the fundamental objective of the board will be lost.
Board members are only a small segment of a community – they should clearly represent a constituency in order to be influential and supported by the population. Because board members volunteer their time, efforts must be made to ensure that the board does not become dominated by partisan members or overpopulated with participants who have the economic means to donate time. The advisory board should be culturally diverse and have broad geographical representation.
The components of the PCRB will be determined over the coming weeks and will be subject to a public hearing.