On August 23rd, the Tallahassee City Commission will consider approving several proposed amendments to the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB) Policies and Procedures. These changes come after several controversies with the CPRB which resulted in the removal of CPRB members and resignations.
CPRB policies and procedures provide that annually the City’s legal counsel shall review CPRB policies and procedures. It is stated in the agenda item that CPRB members have had questions regarding their duties and responsibilities where not specifically stated in the adopted policies and procedures. The purpose of the amendments is to provide clarity related to these questions.
In 2020 the CPRB was created to foster transparency and enhance the relationship and communication between the TPD and the community. The purpose of the CPRB is to review completed department internal affairs reports, cases, and issues relating to law to enforcement to increase transparency and enhance credibility related to law enforcement.
There are several recommended revisions made to the policies and procedures, including clarifying the requirement of being “unbiased” when performing CPRB duties. The revision states, “Members shall conduct themselves in an unbiased manner in fact and appearance, meaning each member must remain impartial, fair, and objective in both how a member conducts themselves during the CPRB meetings and in all issues and decision making that come before the CPRB.”
The new provisions also provide a clear definition related to CPRB’s authority, which states the CPRB does not have the authority to independently investigate cases, “review or recommend modification to the duties and responsibilities of the CPRB as set forth in the City Ordinance No. 20-O-31, issue press releases or public statements, call special sessions, determine or review Department policies or procedures, review or negotiate Department contracts or collective bargaining agreements, hire or promote officers.”
Another revision added a definition of how CPRB members should avoid community outreach. The provision reads, “CPRB members should avoid community outreach on behalf of the CPRB. Community outreach includes, but is not limited to, distributing flyers in the community, creating social media accounts, creating internet domains or creating board or board member email addresses. The CPRB should rather be dedicated to performing the specialized duties stated in these policies and procedures.”
Additionally, other provisions include, authorizing the Chair to cancel meetings as the work permits, establishing a three-minute public comment limit, designating the Ombudsman to ensure that only closed Internal Affairs Investigations are provided to the CPRB instead of the Administrator, and clarifying the CPRB’s responsibilities regarding the gathering of information for the annual report.