Tampa city council wants more input on police panel

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Tampa Police Department is already under review by the federal officials over the way it handed out bike citations, primarily to African-Americans.

It’s just one more reason the public is demanding a police citizens review board.

“A review board that works is definitely needed,” Patti Silliman told the city council.

Silliman is one of many people who voiced their opinion before the council members. Silliman claims, her son was shot and killed by police in his Seminole Heights home as officers served a search warrant for drugs.

Silliman went on to tell the council, “What I am hearing in here today by everyone who has come up here today is accountability, they want accountability, I want accountability.”

Some council members even seemed upset over Mayor Bob Buckhorn announcing he would appoint nine of the eleven members to the review board.

City council member Mike Suarez told his fellow members,”If the mayor would have consulted with us, I don’t think we would have much of a problem right now.”

That led to a contentious debate between the council’s attorney and the city attorney, over how the mayor was advised to draw up the review panel, without the council’s consent. The attorney for the council Martin Shelby said, “The power is not apportioned, it is not a balance of power, it is a separation of powers, you can have a strong mayor and a strong city council.”

City attorney Julia Mandell then asked the council, “I am respectfully asking that this issue be continued, so I can obtain an outside legal opinion.”

In the end, the council suggested it determine who will have a say in how the review panel is created. Suarez said, “We want to see our city go forward together, we don’t want to see us fighting among ourselves, it does nothing for the public at large.”

The council is recommending it be able to select seven of the nine members, while the mayor could appoint the other two as well as two alternates. That will be discussed in a public workshop later this month.

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