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Tallahassee Police Citizens Advisory Council holds first meeting

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee Police Department’s Citizens Advisory Council met for the first time on Monday, discussing expectations and commitments.

The group has been in the works since January, but stalled during the pandemic. TPD received 86 applications, and will choose a total of about 30 volunteers. The final selection should be made by the end of July.

Serving on the council will be a two-year commitment, with monthly meetings.

The group consists of residents from all over Tallahassee; the goal is for the Citizens Advisory Council to act as a go-between, connecting the police department and the community.

“We think we know what the community wants, but we don’t. So this will be some things that they can tell us we can do better. We know that there’s room for improvement, that there’s room for growth,” said Deputy Chief Tonja Bryant-Smith. “For example, we put our policies out; one of the things that we want to do is actually talk about those policies.”

After the meeting, one prospective council member, Bernice McMillan, shared what she believes the council’s goal should be.

“We’re not here to terminate anybody, to tell them how to function their jobs or do what they do,” she said. “We’re hear to support them as well as the community. I think bridging that gap is so important.”

Deputy Chief Bryant-Smith said the first meeting with the 30 council members would be a closed-door, hands-on session concerning use of force policy. She said it was unclear exactly when and where it will be held.

The group is specifically designed to advise TPD; it will be entirely separate from the City of Tallahassee’s proposed Citizens Review Board.

Commissioners unanimously voted at the beginning of June to create the Citizens Review Board; it would operate similar to the Planning Commission, with members appointed by City Commissioners.

Both the TPD CAC and the City's Citizens Review Board are in the works, but some residents want the City to go further.

The Tallahassee Community Action Committee has called on the City to create a community-controlled accountability council.

The City is set to take up the Citizens Review Board at its September Commission meeting.

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