City of Sarasota taking in applicants for members and chairs of two police boards

Heavy police presence on North Osprey Avenue in Sarasota following a shooting outside of a home.
Heavy police presence on North Osprey Avenue in Sarasota following a shooting outside of a home.(Source: WWSB)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The City of Sarasota commissioners voted to continue their decision on who will be the chair of both of their city police boards on Monday afternoon.

The meeting agenda shows one of the items for the commission meeting was to appoint a chairperson for the Independent Police Advisory Panel and a chairperson the Police Complaint Committee.

According to the city website the role of the five member Independent Police Advisory Panel is to ensure the accountability and transparency of the police department and to help with public confidence. The board must advise the City Commission on “major policy aspects of policing within the city and other global policy matters.”

The term length to be on the IPAP is three years. Someone is allowed to have three terms within the board. The city website says the advisory panel has four people’s terms ending soon and one person whose term is expiring.

The Police Complaint Committee is also comprised of five members with three year length terms and a cap of three terms. The City website says one person’s term is expiring and four other people have their terms ending soon.

The role of the Police Complaint Committee is to report annually to the City Commission. The Committee was started in order for people in the committee that is comprised of citizens of the city to advise the Chief of Police on policies, procedures and practices pertaining to the processing of complaints against the department’s officers. According to the city website “the Committee receives reports from the Chief on completed investigations of complaints and their resolution.”

On Monday afternoon, City Manager Tom Barwin introduced the two recommendations for chair on the committee and the advisory panel. Barwin recommended to move forward with a current member of the Police Complaint Committee, Thomas Fuerst, to inherit the position. He recommended former commissioner and IPAP member to be the next chairperson of the advisory board.

Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch said during the meeting that there is nothing but support for the two recommendations.

During the commission meeting it was revealed that the two recommendations were also the two only applications the city had received for the chair positions.

However, Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie and some commissioners expressed that over the last few days they’ve heard from constituents interested in learning more about being a part of the either boards or becoming a chairperson.

Commissioner William Shaw said he wanted to appoint the chair for both committees on Monday so they could get on with choosing the people for the board. He said it is of the upmost importance to not prolong the decision.

The Vice Mayor said it would be fair to push the matter two more weeks and didn’t believe it would be a detriment to do so. She said it is important to see all the applicants.

Commissioner Hagen Brody agreed that continuing the matter and making a decision on the chair of the two community based boards during the next meeting would be best. He said he’s spoken to people that didn’t know about the opening.

“In this time of political strife it’s shocking that only one person has applied for chair,” said Brody.

He said having one application for chair in this kind of board isn’t enough and expressed the lack of diversity on the boards and wanted to see that change in order to reflect the community better.

Commissioner William Shaw expressed concern about a new person who hasn’t been a part of this movement the last few years coming in. He didn’t support the motion to leave the application. The Mayor said she didn’t want to delay the matter and wanted to move forward with the recommendations. The Vice Mayor said it was unfair to not let others interested get the opportunity to be seen.

Commissioner Liz Alpert, Commissioner Brody and Vice Mayor Eddie voted to decide on the chair of the boards at the next meeting in July.

Alpert did state during the discussion that she believed both applicants are very qualified but believed delaying two weeks is something they should do.

Commissioner Brody and Vice Mayor Eddie both want the city to better advertise for vacancies.

If you’d like to apply for chairperson or be a part of the Independent Police Advisory Panel or the Police Complaint Committee click here chose the advisory board you’re interested in and there is an apply button on the right side.

Copyright 2020 WWSB. All rights reserved.