TAMPA, FL — A city councilman has requested an internal affairs investigation into the conduct of the president of the police union during the city council chair election last week.
District 5 Councilman Frank Reddick met with Tampa Police Department officers Tuesday morning to request the investigation of Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano who was among the crowd at City Hall during the chair elections, which Reddick eventually lost to Mike Suarez. In addition to leading the union, Gericitano serves as a police officer.
During Thursday’s meeting, Reddick called out Gericitano, saying he had made a throat-cutting gesture with his hand after Reddick was nominated. The incident came after council had voted 13 times without being able to agree on a new chair.
Reddick said he has not spoken with Gericitano since the meeting. He said the gesture was inappropriate for a police officer to make about an elected official and is a breach of the department’s manual of regulations. It states that employees “shall not publicly criticize or ridicule the department, city administration, or other city departments, their policies, or officers through speech, writing or expression….”
“I would like him to admit that he made a mistake,” Reddick said.
Reddick also said the union was lobbying for him not to continue as council chairman. The council’s only black member, Reddick has been a sometimes vocal critic of the police department, particularly over its treatment of black residents.
Police spokesman Stephen Hegarty said the department has opened an investigation based upon Reddick’s complaint.
Council meetings are recorded but there is no video footage of Gericitano at the time of the incident when the city’s livestream was showing footage from a camera focused on council members, city officials said.
Reddick and the union clashed earlier this year over the city’s adoption of a civilian police review board that Reddick wanted to have subpoena power but was opposed by the police union. He was also critical over the department’s disproportionate ticketing of black bicyclists that led to an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice probe into the practice.
Gericitano did not return a call seeking comment. He said after the meeting last week he had spoken to several council members beforehand. None of the council members the Tribune spoke with characterized the conversation as lobbying. Gericitano denied then that he made a throat-cutting gesture.
“I don’t know what I did but it certainly wasn’t in reference to Frank Reddick,” he said. “I was hoping they wouldn’t nominate anyone else so we can get on with this election.”
From The Tampa Tribune