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Broward’s new police oversight committee won’t investigate specific complaints against cops, but it will track problem-prone officers and weigh in on policies — all to stamp out police misconduct.
County commissioners this month are expected to sign off on creating the Broward Police and Criminal Justice Review Board. The oversight panel won’t “be a punitive board,” but it’ll be a "liaison to police to communicate the community’s wants and desires to change things,” Broward Commissioner Barbara Sharief said Tuesday.
The idea for the panel came as a response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which drew protests across the country against police brutality.
The board will track data from complaints about allegations of excessive use of force, Sharief said, and bring it to the attention of the Broward Sheriff’s Office or city police departments. For example, it’ll be able to tell an agency, “‘Listen, we’ve got five complaints about the same police officer and we think this rises to the level of review,’” Sharief said.
Florida’s state laws limit the powers of local governments that establish civilian oversight of police departments. So Commissioner Beam Furr warned while this would be a “rare chance to have input” from the public, it will not “mete out justice and we ought to tamp down those expectations."
"What they can do is put forth a vision for our future and I look forward to that.”
The board will have 23 voting members.
On Tuesday, officials agreed to add two voting members from law enforcement, including the sheriff or his designee, and a member of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association. That will offset two members from Black Lives Matter and the Dream Defenders, organizations that support “defunding” the police.
“It’s kind of balanced that way,” said Vice Mayor Steve Geller. “Now we’ll have everybody’s viewpoints.”
Said Geller: “There’s a systematic problem in training and other factors in law enforcement. There are problems and we are trying to look into them the best we can.”
Mayor Dale Holness, who voted against the police being a voting part of the board, said not all members of the public will be pleased that law enforcement would be voting.
“Many community organizers did not want that to happen, because they didn’t want police to police themselves,” he said.
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