City commissioners charged the newly appointed Blue Ribbon Citizens Panel with its duties during the commission's meeting Monday.
Commissioners told the 11-member board it will examine the use of force, the perceived disparate treatment of minorities, ways to restore trust in the police department and will help articulate the vision and goals of the Sarasota Police Department.
An advisory board, comprising three law-enforcement professionals and USF professors, also was appointed.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta had suggested paying up to $65,000 for a consultant to perform those tasks, but a split commission voted to ask community volunteers to fill that role, believing it could save money.
However, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell revealed one of the advisory-board members wanted to perform a survey of city residents for about $80,000, and she wanted to know if the citizens panel or the advisory board was making such decisions.
Mayor Dick Clapp said if the advisory board had expenditures, it would have to request it from the citizens panel, which would then have to request money from the City Commission.
In other City Commission action:
• The Commission unanimously voted to provide $100,000 to support another Ringling International Arts Festival.
“I’m looking at this as an economic-development opportunity,” Clapp said.
• Commissioners approved the use of 40-foot buses at the SCAT transfer station at Lemon Avenue and First Street. The city previously allowed only 35-foot buses, but Manatee County recently purchased three 40-foot buses for its inter-county route. The vote was necessary to allow those larger buses to use the transfer station.
• Downtown Sarasota Alliance advisory board member Paul Thorpe expressed concern that the scaffolding at the Plaza at Five Points was still blocking the sidewalk. The scaffolding was placed there in March to repair the building after some stucco fell from the building and injured a woman below. Thorpe asked commissioners if they could do something to speed up the repair process.
“We’re trying to get people coming to downtown, and they get to (Five Points), and it appears to be barricaded,” Thorpe said.
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