HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — On Thursday, Tampa City Council members will vote on whether the Citizens Review Board should get an independent attorney.
The Citizens Review Board is a panel of people who review disciplinary cases from police. For months, activist groups have been pushing for the board to have more power.
“The CRB, which we understand to be kind of toothless, having their own attorney is a pretty simple request,” Joseph Nohava with the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee said.
Nohava said it is a simple request to allow the CRB to get counsel from an attorney that is not a city employee.
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It was denied by Jane Castor a few months ago.
“That kinda threw everybody for a loop. We weren’t really expecting that. We saw it as kind of an anti-democratic sort of move on her part,” Nova said.
Castor previously said she viewed the hiring of an independent attorney for the CRB as an unnecessary taxpayer expense. The mayor vetoed the idea of leaving the decision up to voters and put it on the ballot.
The difference now is that the vote is up to city council members.
“So this time, it’s just city council. She could very well veto it again. The council would have to override that veto then it would become a law,” City Councilor Lynn Hurtak said.
Thursday morning is the first reading of the ordinance. City council members will vote then the next step is second reading and adoption. After that, it heads to Mayor Castor’s desk.
“I think for the average person that, to not have somebody independent there in the room, not connected to the police, it just seems like so unfair,” Nova said.
The Tampa Police Department referred us back to a previous statement saying, ”We believe the organization has what it needs to be productive, create meaningful change if the need arises, and be an asset to our community without burdening taxpayers with costs that will arise from more added changes.”
The city council meeting starts Thursday at 9 a.m.
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