Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced changes to the Tampa Police Department’s Citizens Review Board Thursday afternoon, aimed at increasing transparency and community involvement.
Castor is authorizing 650 new officer-worn body cameras to the department’s stock following pleas from activists calling for an end to police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.
“I know that our officers have a very important and difficult job to do,” Castor said. “As a Mayor and as a lifelong Tampa resident, I also know our community is calling for necessary change.”
Police Chief Brian Dugan briefly spoke about the additional body cameras, an expansion from the department’s 60 body cameras that were part of its 2015 pilot program. Officers will undergo more training with the new equipment, he said.
“It’s all about transparency and accountability, and that is what we’re expecting the body-worn camera to do,” he said.
Dugan said the agency will hold workshops July 22 and 24, including training on implicit bias. Implicit bias is an important part of law enforcement reform, which includes educating officers on how to identify their own bias, which without training they may act upon without even knowing it.
Castor is also making changes to the Community Review Board, which reviews officer complaints. She’s adding two members — one from the NAACP and another from the criminology department at either the University of South Florida or University of Tampa. The city also plans to create a separate Community Review Board website where meetings will be announced and news can be shared.
In June, Castor announced a change in several TPD policies, including requiring officers to intervene in situations where excessive force is being used and banning carotid holds, which uses body pressure on a person’s neck to restrain them. That’s the hold that resulted in Floyd’s death after an officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, sparking nationwide protests.
Castor also announced in June all officer-involved shooting investigations must be referred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.