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Bradenton Police Department May Get A Citizen Review Board

Police cars driving on the road.
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The Bradenton City Council will hold a workshop on Wednesday morning to discuss forming a citizen review board for the police department.

The city of Bradenton is considering forming a citizen review board to oversee its police department.

Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., the city council will meet for a workshop on the subject.

The idea for the board was posed by Councilman Harold Byrd at the last city council meeting. Byrd proposed it in response to complaints from Manatee County NAACP President Rodney Jones about racial profiling.

“The NAACP president has had some issues with the Bradenton Police Department,” Councilman Bill Sanders said.  "This has been going on for some time and it’s at the point where he’s making a demand for a review committee or something to change the existing system.”

While Byrd supports the citizen review board, other council members have expressed hesitation.

Councilman Gene Gallo doesn’t want a board for the police department unless the city also forms boards for all other departments in Bradenton.

“The city council is part of that too. If somebody comes in and wants to complain about the city council and what we say and do, an advisory board should be able to take care of that also. We’re not exempt from that,” Gallo said.

Sanders said he needs to do more research before deciding if a citizen review board is right for the city. He said he fears the board might prevent the police from doing their jobs.

“Sometimes it becomes a headache to the police department. I don't want that because I think they have a tough enough job the way it is, and I don't want to burden them with having oversight that hinders their work.”

A citizen review board already exists in the city of Tampa. It has 11 volunteer members who serve four year terms. The board members review completed disciplinary cases from the police department.

The Bradenton council members are unsure how the board would operate in their city. Sanders said it will likely take several workshops to come to a solution.

Carrie Pinkard is the Stephen Noble news intern for the summer 2019 semester. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in English, before heading to USF St Pete to pursue a master’s in journalism.