County commissioners in Orlando, Fla., and Sheriff Kevin Beary have agreed allow televising sessions of the Citizen Review Board, which reviews brutality claims against deputies. The Orlando Sentinel says that deputies and some commissioners protest that it is unfair to deputies to broadcast unedited allegations on Orange TV, the county’s government-access channel.
“There’s a time and a place for the court of public opinion and this isn’t it,” said John Park, president of the union representing sheriff’s deputies. “In the spirit of fairness and officer safety, it’s just not right.”
The board was in the spotlight last month after a deputy shot to death a fleeing man he mistakenly thought was a murder suspect. Voters established the review board to review complaints of excessive force. Its critics say the board is too dependent on the same deputies it is supposed to keep an eye on. Since 1998, the board has agreed with sheriff’s office conclusions in 170 of 177 cases.
Under changes approved yesterday, complaints still will be investigated by the Sheriff’s Office. A new phone number will be established so residents can file complaints without going to the Sheriff’s Office, where they might feel intimidated.
Several commissioners expressed concern with the plan to televise the panel’s monthly meetings. “Even if there’s no validity to a complaint, it still gives some legitimacy to it if we put it on Orange TV,” Commissioner Teresa Jacobs said.