Sarasota News Leader

11/23/2012

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STAFFED AND STAYING The Sarasota Police Department headquarters is located on Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel CITY COMMISSION DECIDES TO KEEP TWO INDEPENDENT POLICE ADVISORY PANELS FOR THE TIME BEING By Stan Zimmerman City Editor The Sarasota City Commission on Monday, Nov. 19, decided to maintain two separate police review panels and appointed two new members to one of them. There had been talk about combining the two boards — the Police Complaint Committee and the Independent Police Advisory Panel. Both were created upon the recommendation of an ad hoc citizens panel that reviewed op- erations of the Sarasota Police Department in the aftermath of a videotaped altercation in the jail sally port between an officer and a suspect. The officer was fired but reinstated nearly three years later by the Civil Service Board. Elmer Berkel, chairman of the Independent Police Advisory Panel, gave his first annual report to the commission on Monday. "We rec- ommend continuing the two panels as origi- nally structured," he said. The complaints panel reviews closed dis- ciplinary cases after those cases have been investigated by the Sarasota Police Depart- ment's Internal Affairs division. The panel has worked through an enormous backlog of cases in the past year. After reviewing disci- plinary proceedings following the investiga- tions, two members of the review panel quit in disgust. They said the police union and state legislation called the "Police Officers' Bill of Rights" prevented any meaningful punishment of miscreant officers. Those two complaints committee positions were filled Monday. Attorney William Full-

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