Tampa Council Rejects Police Review Subpoena, Other Charter Changes

TAMPA -- A proposal to give the Citizens Review Board that investigates police incidents subpoena power has gone down to defeat in Tampa City Council. It was one of several charter proposals opposed by Mayor Jane Castor.

The proposal would have put the issue on the ballot next year. It would have given the board power to subpoena civilians to testify. The board would still not have the power to compel police to testify. Nonetheless, the head of the Tampa police union opposed the plan. Brandon Barclay said it was designed to be fair to "everyone but the police." A representative of the state attorney's office said it would hamper prosecutions. Retired judge and former state attorney E.J. Salcines cautioned council, saying that subpoena power would be hard to enforce outside city limits, without judges and prosecutors to back it up.

Members of several local activist groups supported the proposal. Longtime activist and NAACP member Connie Burton asked "why not trust the voters... so that we can be guaranteed trust and accountability." A statement from the city referred to supporters of the referendum as "fringe groups" tied to the "defund the police" movement. That upset local NAACP president Yvette Lewis, who said some on council were NAACP members. "I'll be damned if you'll call us a fringe group." She promised to "embark on this city" and have "an all out legal war."

Council members also rejected several amendments designed to address several issues, including keeping the city attorney from approving contracts and settlements without council oversight, and tightening term limits for the mayor. Others would have clarified whether the city attorney works for the mayor or council or both.

Councilman Charlie Miranda was in the majority opposing all charter proposals, saying that if the council had a problem with the mayor, a supermajority of five votes is all it takes for an override. "Eight elected officials, and somehow we can't even make vegetable soup," Miranda said.

Photo: Canva

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