Tampa’s nearly decade-old police review board will be axed in July

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Starting July 1st, a new Florida law will effectively wipe out all citizen-led review boards for police departments.

Here’s what that means for Tampa’s almost 10-year-old board.

In April, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that prevents investigations of local law enforcement by Citizen Review Boards, or CRB.

The law also creates specific rules regarding its makeup.

Republican House Representative Danny Alvarez, a sponsor of the bill, spoke at a Tampa city council meeting in June.

He says the intent was to end the boards and start fresh.

“If you were to find some sort of way that you’re gonna keep it going, then we are going to have to come back to the dais and then tighten it up with whatever loophole you think you might have found.”

The Tampa CRB consists of 11 members.

It was formed in 2015 after pushback from a Tampa Bay Times article  that showed the Tampa Police Department targeting Black bicyclists.

Currently, the board reviews closed investigations, community complaints, and participates in the hiring process of police officers.

City Councilmember Bill Carlson said the council’s hands were tied.

“If I was at the legislature I would’ve voted against that legislation, but now that it’s there, and they’re determined to make sure that this goes away, it’s a waste of city time and resources to keep it going.”

Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw says he looks forward to creating a new CRB under the new guidelines.

The new law requires boards to have at least 3 members appointed by the chief of police, with at least one being a retired officer.

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