Mayor Jane Castor established the Mayor’s Community Task Force on Policing to create a space for local leaders, activists, and subject-matter experts to have important conversations about improving the Tampa Police Department and strengthening its relationship with the community. University of South Florida Associate Criminology Professor, Dr. Bryanna Fox, led the group meetings that focused on the future of policing in Tampa.
The Mayor’s Community Task Force on Policing shared its key findings on Saturday, August 29th. The group used five pillars of the 21st Century Policing as their framework and identified 17 key findings to enhance the Tampa Police Department.
Pillar 1: Building Trust and Legitimacy
Implement Procedural Justice Model of Policing
Implement Procedural Justice (PJ) training and infuse model into agency culture. Conduct independent evaluation to assess long-term effects of PJ model on target outcomes.
The Tampa Police Department works to incorporate the Procedural Justice model of policing by ensuring fairness in the process, enhancing transparency in our actions, and seeking opportunities to listen to, and address, community concerns. This particularly occurs through actions such as our Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program, Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, and mandatory training on the subject of Fair and Impartial Policing. The department’s golden rule, “Everyone is treated with dignity and respect”, is ingrained in all officers. We will continue to enhance our procedural justice efforts through training and educating our officers and the community.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #1
The Tampa Police Department has a long-established training on Fair and Impartial Policing as well as a Standard Operating Procedure regarding Philosophy of Enforcement.
Beginning in 2019, the department worked to have every officer completed 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training. All employed officers completed this training in 2020. CIT has now been incorporated into training for all new recruits during the holdover phase of employment.
July 2020: Tampa Police instructors completed a “Train-the-Trainer” session, to deploy refresher Fair and Impartial Policing instruction department-wide through 2021.
November 2020: “FIP Command/Community Policing Training” was conducted with community members, police leadership, and police instructors participating in joint sessions.
December 2020: All Tampa Police officers attended Community Organizers Helping Officers Restore Trust (COHORT) training, a diversity and inclusion training for law enforcement officers.
A link to the Tampa Police Satisfaction Survey has been added to the department website and all department issued business cards now have a QR code link to allow for easy accessibility for the public to complete.
Make all policies available for public review online.
The Tampa Police Department embraces transparency. We are currently streamlining our website to improve ease of access and availability of access established policies and procedures.
Additional action taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #2
Department policies and procedures are viewable through a link on the department website.
Regularly post data on all stops, offenses, arrests, complaints and findings, and use of force, for public review online.
The Tampa Police Department will update our website and partner with the National Police Foundation to improve our technology to automate our process with the goal of making the sharing of data online more efficient and timely.
Below are several examples of the current crime and call data available on our website and the link on how to compliment or lodge a complaint on an officer:
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #3
To make the sharing of data efficient and easy for the public, Crime Analysts completed training with Microsoft with the next anticipated step to be the creation of publicly available data and search features in an online format.
Pillar 2: Policy and Oversight
Reduce Misconduct Through Accountability
Implement body worn cameras (BWCs) agency-wide, with clear policies on use. Include clear policy on camera use (i.e. turning on/off) and sharing of footage with the public. Institute random reviews of BWC footage. Study long-term effects of BWC on outcomes through an independent evaluation.
The Tampa Police Department recently collaborated with the Department of Justice on their Body Worn Camera policy standards, which meets the finding criteria. The department has just issued 650 BWC to patrol officers, and we are working towards implementing a long-term plan for independent review. Public records requests for BWC footage are available through an easy to use online portal, with a link on our homepage.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #4
An additional fifty-eight (58) Body Worn Cameras were purchased and allocated to Marine Patrol and patrol corporals, for a total of 708 body worn cameras issued throughout the department.
Update use of force policy to clearly articulate appropriate responsive force, and attempts to de-escalate, when possible.
The Tampa Police Department regularly reviews its use of force policies. We are expanding our de-escalation curriculum and have updated our policies to reflect these revisions.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #5
The Tampa Police made modification to wording and incorporated established training documentation into the text of standard operating procedures related to response to resistance (Use of Force) to afford a higher level of transparency. These are specifically outlined in Standard Operating Procedures 537: Use Of Force and 538: Response to Resistance.
Prevent Problematic Officers
Expand Early Intervention Program. Add additional performance data to EIP (use of force, citizen complaints, disproportionate stops/arrests of minority citizens, misconduct, etc.), and expand reference period to prior 2 years.
The Tampa Police Department was a pioneer agency for implementing the early intervention program. Our current program consists of use of force and discipline as automatic indicators for early intervention. The department is committed to expanding this successful program.
No hiring officers with a history of misconduct.
The Tampa Police Department conducts intensive background investigations and does not hire any applicant whose history indicates illegal or unethical behavior, untruthfulness, unreliability, prejudicial attitudes, or any other act that would be detrimental to the effectiveness of the police department. This background investigation includes a psychological and polygraph examination.
Pillar 3: Technology and Social Media
Increase Accessibility, Authenticity, and Communication
Enhance social media use to inform, interact, connect, and alert the community. Communicate major incidents and (+ BWC footage) immediately, fully, and neutrally with the public. Dialogic (two-way/ interactive) communication with citizens.
The Tampa Police Department maintains a proactive social media presence and will continue to enhance our platforms to improve our interaction with the community. The recent expansion of our Body Worn Camera program will allow us to provide an increased level of transparency to inform the public of work being done by police officers.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #8
Highlighting an "Officer of the Week" on social media has been used to provide a humanizing perspective of the person behind the badge. BWC footage is shared on social media platforms as an efficient method of informing the public of police activity and/or investigations.
Pillar 4: Community Policing and Crime Reduction
(Re)Institute Community Policing Model
Increase non-enforcement interaction between officers and the community (e.g. ‘Cops out of Cars’ – Officers building relationships in the community, foot/bicycle patrol, see Police Foundation, 2016; Ratcliffe et al., 2011).
The department proactively engages in community patrol functions including but not limited to bike, foot, mounted, and park patrols. Chief Dugan is re-organizing the department by decentralizing a portion of the officers from the Violent Crime Bureau. These officers will be assigned out in the districts to enhance our community engagement while focusing on violent crime.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #9
Department sponsored community programs are listed on the police website, in an easily accessible format, each of which encourage varied opportunities for non-enforcement interaction between officers and the community.
Change evaluation metrics to emphasize/reward actions supportive of community policing (e.g. add community contacts to activity logs, etc.).
We will update our performance matrix to capture foot patrols. To further enhance our community engagement.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #10
Police codes were created to specifically capture foot patrols conducted by officers as well as front porch roll calls that are conducted with the community. These codes are being added to the new Community Outreach section of each officer’s performance assessment report.
Document in policy a philosophy of police restraint, whenever possible, and a philosophy of ensuring protestors can safely and legally express their First Amendment rights. Amend policy on crowd management to clearly address the appropriate response to different types of events (i.e., protests, criminal activity, riots, individuals committing property damage, violence against others). For any crowd management event, supervisors will complete an after-action report to the Chief of Police to ensure policy was followed. No knock warrants only used when clearly stated exigent circumstances exist and must be approved by the Chief of Police.
The Tampa Police Department’s philosophy is to defend the constitutional rights of all citizens and to maintain impartiality to those expressing their rights. The department routinely trains officers on these policies and is committed to continually updating and revising these policies and trainings. The department has recently assigned a sole lead protest commander who reviews both the protest and the associated after-action reports. Operational adjustments are routinely made after reviewing these after-action reports. SOP has recently been updated to state that Department personnel shall not execute a “no knock” search warrant unless specifically approved by a judge and with the authorization of the Chief of Police.
Incentivize hires from the community (e.g., scholarships, sponsored academy) to increase diversity and improve community relations.
In an effort to represent the city it serves, the Tampa Police Department employs numerous methods to recruit police officers including, but not limited to, recruitment efforts at colleges and universities, local job fairs, community functions, and through ever officer in the being a part of the recruitment process. Police programs like our RICH House, Police Athletic League, and Police Explorers Program also develop and recruit future police candidates. Efforts also include advertising in the Florida Sentinel newspaper as well as promoting our police recruit scholarship program. The below websites highlight two of our scholarship programs.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #12
Tampa Police is expanding diversity recruitment for our Police Explorer Program by incorporating School Resource Officers into the application and referral process and training them on the Police Explorer Program.
Turn Relationship-Building into a Policing Philosophy
Enhance police-community interaction and understanding (e.g., Police Athletic Leagues, Jr Police Academies, Students Talking It Over with Police, Beyond the Badge; “Listening events” - Front Porch roll call, Saturday Barber Shop visits, community cook outs; Explore alternatives to arrest programs (e.g., expand use of citations in lieu of arrest, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program); ‘Reverse ride alongs’- officers spending the day with community members).
The Tampa Police Department interacts with the community through an abundance of programs including, but not limited to the Bigs in Blue program, Police Athletic League, Front Porch Roll Calls, The RICH House, The Laundry Project, and annual Bridging the Gap field days with local youth. Officers also routinely engage in ad hoc community engagement opportunities through activities like playing basketball or just being a positive role model. The department’s decentralization will place more officers out in the community thus providing increased opportunity for community interaction.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #13
Eligibility has been expanded for entry into the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP). Most misdemeanor offenses are now eligible to result in a civil citation rather than an arrest. This now includes domestic violence, and remorse is no longer a pre-requisite for entry into the program.
Increase opportunities for Citizens Academy and ride-along program.
The Tampa Police Department currently hosts both Citizens and Youth Academies several times throughout the year. In addition, the department officer numerous other abbreviated citizen academies for community organizations and local college and professional sports teams. The department is expanding their training unit to increase the frequency of both internal training and citizen and youth academies. Citizens are encouraged and can participate in ride-a-longs with an officer anytime.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #14
Signing up for the Ride Along program was made more efficient with the creation of an online request form. Additionally, community programs are now efficiently listed online to inform the community of optional available activities.
Pillar 5: Training and Education
Implement Effective, High-Quality, Evidence-Based Training
Implement use of force/de-escalation (DE) training and add DE items to all reports. PERF's Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) DE training found to reduce officer use of force and complaints against officers (see Isaza et al., 2019; Engel et al., forthcoming). Require de-escalation in TPD Standard Operating Procedures. Track data on DE tactic use, re-enforce importance post-training. Conduct follow-up study (RCT) on the effects of DE model on use of force, citizen complaints, etc.
The Tampa Police Department actively engages in advanced and progressive de-escalation training through scenario-based incidents which require our officers to demonstrate critical de-escalation and decision-making skills. The department will embrace PERF’s ICAT curriculum to enhance de-escalation training and modifications will be made to incorporate text regarding established de-escalation training, legal bulletin documentation, and regulations into the text of our SOP Manual, making them centralized documents.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #15
While de-escalation was covered in Tampa Police training, verbiage specific to de-escalation was incorporated into Standard Operating Procedures. These are specifically outlined in Standard Operating Procedures 537: Use Of Force and 538: Response to Resistance.
The Tampa Police Department is scheduled to complete PERF's Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training, department-wide, in 2021.
Re-enforce trainings through internal and external culture (e.g., Ensure training is demonstrated consistently in officer actions, Reward, promote, and incentivize officers acting on training, community-oriented policing, etc.).
The Tampa Police Department was a lead agency in internal and external cultural training through programs including but not limited to Fair and Impartial Policing and Florida Holocaust Museum training. Chief Dugan will be expanding the department’s cultural training on the evolution of law enforcement across the nation and in the City of Tampa, which will provide officers with an increased understanding as to why some community members have difficulty trusting police officers. The department utilizes training software (Power DMS) to both record and alert the department when training is scheduled for renewal.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #16
The Tampa Police Department launched the TRUST core value system to supplement the mission statement. TRUST is used to ensure Transparency, Respect, Understanding, Safety, and Teamwork between the department and the community we serve.
December 2020: All Tampa Police officers attended Community Organizers Helping Officers Restore Trust (COHORT) training, a diversity and inclusion training for law enforcement officers.
A history of policing in Tampa’s black community is currently being developed. This will be presented to all department personnel and will become part of new hire curriculum.
Funding/Resources for Police
Implement Co-Response Model for Mental Health/Social Welfare Calls
Hire trained mental health experts and social workers to co-respond to mental health-related or social welfare calls.
The Tampa Police Department is in the process of conducting extensive research on the mental health co-responder model and will be working with USF on a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting stakeholders for information in developing a pilot program.
Additional actions taken by Tampa Police to address Finding #17
Tampa Police Department received no responses to the RFI. Now, the Tampa Police Department, in continued partnership with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the University of South Florida, will meet with BayCare Behavioral Health, DACCO Behavioral Health, Gracepoint, and Northside Behavioral Health in effort to develop an effective mental health co-responder model for mental health and/or social welfare related calls for service.
TAMPA POLICE CONDUCT NEXT PHASE OF RESARCH FOR RESPONDING TO MENTAL HEALTH/SOCIAL WELFARE CALLS FOR SERVICE
The Tampa Police Department, in continued partnership with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the University of South Florida, took another step forward in researching new models of response to mental health and social welfare types of calls for service.
From Tuesday, February 16 through Friday, February 19, 2021 a Tampa Police Officer was partnered with a mental health professional from one of four different providers (BayCare Behavioral Health, DACCO, Gracepoint, and Northside Behavioral Health) and responded to calls for service, city-wide, where a subject was possibly suffering from a mental health crisis.
While all Tampa Police Officers are trained in crisis intervention, this ride-along by a mental health professional allowed for immediate clinical engagement for the person in the midst of a mental health crisis and will provide valuable input as we look for more efficient methods of helping those with mental illness or issues related to substance abuse. The long-term goal is to quickly connect the person in need with trained mental health resources if the situation is not criminal in nature.
“Police officers are known as ‘first responders’, but we can’t be considered the only responder”, said Chief Brian Dugan. “We have a mental health crisis in our nation. Developing an efficient method of rapid response by trained mental health professionals will, hopefully, improve the quality of life for those suffering a critical mental health episode”.