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City Commission Greenlights Use Of Force Policy, Training Audits For TPD

police cars are parked along the road of a brown apartment complex. A tree is in the background.
Ryan Dailey
TPD units at the scene of the fatal police shooting of Tony McDade in May 2020.

Tallahassee’s City Commission has given the go-ahead for auditors to examine the Police Department’s use of force policy and training.

The proposal was brought up after a grand jury in September cleared TPD officers of wrongdoing in the fatal police shootings of Wilbon Woodard, Mychael Johnson and Tony McDade – which all took place this year.

Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox, who has a background in state government, says she believes the audit process will be thorough.

“I think it’s very important to note that an audit is independent, the auditor is not in cahoots with the Tallahassee Police Department,” Williams-Cox said. “The audit is not emotional.”

City Inspector General Dennis Sutton says the audits will be conducted separately, with the use of force policy audit taking priority.

“I anticipate starting immediately after its approval. But the audit on training may be a little bit delayed, because I have other audits ongoing with my staff that I would like them to be able to finish,” Sutton told the commission during its Wednesday meeting.

A main objective of the audit will be to evaluate if TPD’s use of force policy “is consistent with modern policing standards and best practices.”

Sutton says the audit will weigh TPD’s use of force policy against best practice guidelines from groups like the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, and the Police Use of Force Project.

“As part of this audit, we’re going to continue to search for more sources of best practices, and I just want to assure all of you that we’re going to cast a wide net looking for various sources we can use to evaluate this policy,” Sutton said.

The audit is expected to be done by the end of this year.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.