Brevard County Sheriff Opposes Citizen Review Board Oversight “National Action Network Cocoa Chapter Challenging the Sheriff”
by Teri Jones
Reverend Johnnie Dennis, President of the National Action Network Cocoa Chapter, was one of four people who proposed a Citizen Review Board to monitor the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) at the March County Commissioner Board meeting. Discussion was presented to the County Commissioners on the functions and purpose of a Citizen Review Board. Reverend Dennis stated, “Our reasons for instituting Citizen Review Boards are to ensure accountability and transparency.” There are no pending claims or accusation of misconduct against the BCSO; however, both President Donald Trump and former President Barak Obama agree that law enforcement should be held accountable for misconduct, which supports Reverend Dennis’ Citizen Review Board initiative for the city of Cocoa and Brevard County.
Reverend Dennis explained that the mission of the Citizen Review Board will be to work as an independent, citizen-run oversight committee of the county’s Internal Affairs. Specifically, the Board will determine if cases handled by Internal Affairs were properly investigated. The board will fulfill its mission by reviewing policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and general or special orders pertaining to the use of force and police conduct towards all citizens of Brevard County. Additionally, Citizen Review Boards are very common throughout the United States. According to Reverend Dennis, Cocoa City Manager, John Titkanich Jr., is actively considering his Citizen Review Board proposal and will work with him this summer to begin the process of implementation.
However, Sheriff Wayne Ivey has taken an opposition stance to this suggestion. Sheriff Ivey stated, “The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office enjoys an incredible relationship and partnership with our community, who work just as hard to protect us as we work to protect them. Our community trusts us and truly recognizes our professionalism, dedication and transparency.” He further stated, “Obviously, the County Commissioners didn’t entertain the comments from the citizens, as they recognize that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is one of the most respected and well-managed agencies in the country. Our agency is fully accredited through the Florida Accreditation Commission for both law enforcement and corrections that fully reviews our policies, procedures, rules, regulations and general orders, as they pertain to every aspect of our agency, including the use of force and law enforcement conduct with our citizens.”
Cocoa resident Mel Martin emphasized that, “Everyone fiercely supports professional law enforcement, and appreciates the service they give and the sacrifices they make every single day that they hit the streets. But, she said, having a police review board would provide that assurance to the public that there is still public oversight on things that are occurring within police departments. This is in the best interest of the public. I honestly believe there should be more discussion about this in some sort of public forum.”
Although, Brevard’s County Commissioners reframed from taking action on Reverend Dennis’ request, this did not discourage Reverend Dennis. He commented, “The County Commissioners have no direct oversight over the sheriff, because he is an elected official.” He shared that his purpose for discussing his proposal at the County Commissioner Board meeting was to bring awareness to the general public. Reverend Dennis concluded by stating, “We have petitioned State Senator Dorothy Hukill to help get a Citizen Review Board set-up in Brevard County.” Reverend Dennis will keep us updated on his progress.