Mayor says new advisory to focus on law enforcement

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson told Inweekly in a phone interview this morning that the proposed committee to oversee the Pensacola Police Department will indeed by “law enforcement” centric.

After the Tymar Crawford was shot and killed by a police officer last summer, the Pensacola Dream Defenders called for “the city of Pensacola to legislate and work to establish an all-civilian oversight structure that includes  a police commission as well as civilian complaint office by July 5, 2020.”

While he said he supported the idea initially, Mayor Robinson later seemed to want to modify it into an advisory committee that would also look at parks, sanitation and other city services.

“That was something we floated around last fall,” said the mayor this morning, dismissing the notion. “I spoke with Cedric Alexander (the city’s consultant for law enforcement) this week and told him we need to make this law enforcement-centric.”

Robinson added, “We might want to leave some room for public safety, in case citizens want to look at the fire department.”

The July 5 deadline will not be met, however.  Robinson said, “I’ve got Cedric meeting with Keith (City Administrator) Wilkins and Lawrence (City Neighborhood Administrator Powell) today to come with a series of dates for community input so we know what the public wants.”

The mayor said he put off the committee’s formation because he thought the major complaint would the lack of police training –“I wanted to get that done first.”  Then, the city had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which set the city back several months.

Training was also a demand of the Pensacola Dream Defenders and Alexander has led that effort for the mayor.

Another delay will be that any permanent city board or committee must be approved by the Pensacola City Council, according to Councilwoman Sherri Myers.  It may have to be done by ordinance, which will take two public hearings.  Then committee will have to be appointed and approved by the council.

If the town halls are done over a two-week period and the council discusses potential members while debating the ordinance, we might have the oversight committee in place by mid-August.

As I wrote in my Outtakes, it’s all a matter of political will.