The Times is asking the mayoral candidates questions before the March 25 election.
QUESTION: Residents repeatedly complain about the process in which complaints against officers are investigated. They say the internal affairs division seldom finds fault with officers, and they say the community review panels are too weak. How would you change this perception?
MAYOR DAVID FISCHER: The appropriate means through which to provide community oversight and a fair hearing on citizens complaints is a key part of the study that will be conducted on the department's response to the recent disturbances (performed by national authorities). We will take the results of that study when available later this summer and develop a complaint review process that will be fair to both the community members and the officers of the department.
BILL KLEIN: There must be a system that is not only fair, but is perceived to be fair by both the officers and the public alike. Part of the problem now is a truncated system in which there is too much "process" and not enough substance. The existence of the review panels requires the form of a hearing, but the panel has little practical authority. One aspect of reaching the goal of the finest police force in America is to revise the procedures by which an officer's conduct is reviewed.
_ Have a question to ask the candidates? Mail to St. Petersburg Times c/o Adam Smith, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Or send e-mail to asmithsptimes.com or fax 893-8675.