Broward County lawmakers suggest citizen review board for officers amid calls for change

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County commissioners are doing their part in listening to the calls for change stemming from the death of George Floyd.

Lawmakers met and decided unanimously to direct the county attorney to look into creating a citizen review board, Tuesday.

“I hope that we don’t wait until we see something like this again to take action,” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness.

The suggestion for change came amid ongoing protests, both in South Florida and nationwide. Protesters continue to take to the streets to demand reform within law enforcement agencies across the country and help bring an end to police brutality.

The review board would be an outside set of eyes. Part of what they would do is examine police conduct and determine whether or not an officer or deputy’s actions were warranted.

“I think this is something that we ought to do to bring the entire community together,” said Holness.

Broward sheriff Gregory Tony also supported the move.

“I think with the times that we are dealing with, the community needs to have more trust,” said Tony. “That’s a focal point for our agency.”

While Tony supports the idea, he said he wants to make sure the board and its recommendations are independent of budget negotiations.

“Then it turns into, ‘If you’re not going to introduce these recommendations, therefore it becomes an issue with budgetary requests,'” he said.

At a Fort Lauderdale Commission meeting on Tuesday night, activists requested that $10 million be stripped from the city’s roughly $130 million budget for police. This item is still up for discussion.

Tifanny Burks, a community organizer with Black Lives Matter Broward, weighed in on the matter during a phone interview. She believes the only way to force change is to defund law enforcement agencies and invest that money into the community.

“[Our goal is to] have money reinvested and reallocated into black community-led efforts,” she said.

Instead of a citizen review board, Burks said, she wishes county leaders created a panel to look into defunding the police and what that plan would look like in Broward County.

“That would have been a great step in the right direction, in building trust in between us and the community and the Broward County Commission,” she said.

In Miami-Dade, commissioners voted 9-4 in favor of reviving the county’s independent civilian panel that was defunded back in 2008.

The panel will be made up of 13 members with the goal of adding additional oversight over Miami-Dade Police. Their aim will be to review and investigate complaints about excessive use of force.

The next step for lawmakers in Broward is to draw up the framework for the review board, which the county attorney will have to present to county commissioners. It will then be up to commissioners to debate on the topic before conducting a vote.

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