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Tampa pushes police review board changes to 2021

City Council members voted to defer the controversial proposal by Mayor Jane Castor until February.
Members of the Tampa City Council were social distanced. Thursday, June 4, 2020 at the Tampa Convention Center.
Members of the Tampa City Council were social distanced. Thursday, June 4, 2020 at the Tampa Convention Center. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Nov. 19, 2020
Updated Nov. 19, 2020

TAMPA — A controversial plan advanced by Mayor Jane Castor to tweak the city’s police oversight board was set to take main stage Thursday at City Council.

Until it wasn’t.

Council members voted unanimously to delay consideration of Castor’s plan until a Feb. 25 workshop. The mayor’s administration asked for the delay, said Chairman Guido Maniscalco.

Council member Bill Carlson, who had praised Castor’s plan as “light years” ahead of how the 11-member volunteer Citizen Review Board in 2015, backed the mayor and said more time was needed.

“The bottom line is that — as of this week — the community is not happy with the proposal on the table,” Carlson said.

Related: Castor's plan to tweak Citizen Review Board disappoints activists

Castor’s plan didn’t satisfy the demands of the ACLU and activists, who wanted to give the panel subpoena power, independent investigators and City Council control of appointments.

She did agree to a police union proposal to include former police officers as eligible to be appointed to the board. And her plan gave the City Council a 6-5 majority in appointments, although the 11th member would be nominated not by council members but the NAACP.

Earlier this week, the ACLU and activists strongly criticized the mayor’s idea. Castor’s spokeswoman later said the mayor would continue to seek middle ground.

The mayor’s office didn’t provide details in response to a request for comment Thursday about why the delay was requested.

Residents had traveled to the Tampa Convention Center to speak on both sides of the issue.

Shiv Shukla, who said he had been active in the Tampa protests that began after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, said the review board was inadequate for effective oversight.

“There is no accountability whatsoever,” Shukla said.

Bobby Moody, president of an organization representing retired police and fire employees, said they backed Police Chief Brian Dugan and Castor.

“We believe in the mayor and the chief,” Moody said.