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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
A Florida Supreme Court Case in 1994 outlined Florida's "knock and announce" requirements for all officers.
Florida has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.
Military style training
Florida has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Locally, Blue Courage trained officers from Doral PD, Florida Department of Corrections, Golden Beach PD, and Hollywood PD.
Florida has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Though civil asset forfeiture still exists in Florida, the state passed a comprehensive reform in 2016 that ameliorated many of the traditional problems with the practice. The bill a) requires that the law enforcement agency who seizes the property must apply to the court to determine whether probable cause existed to seize the property b)requires law enforcement to pay a $1,000 filing fee and deposit a $1,500 bond, which is payable to the property owner if they prevail c) increases the burden prosecutors must prove from clear and convincing to beyond reasonable doubt d) requires reporting by law enforcement agencies regarding assets civilly forfeited.
SB 264 (2015) banned traffic ticket quotas in the state. However, legislators have not addressed quotas for pedestrian stops/citations.
Cost of misconduct
Florida has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Florida has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. Efforts to decriminalize marijuana at the state level died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, though several cities have decriminalized possession. Locally, a 2017 ProPublica story found that from 2012-2017, Black individuals were issued 55% of all pedestrian tickets in Jacksonville, despite only comprising 29% of the city's population.
Objective justification for stops
Florida criminal law states that "A suspect's prior arrest on drug charges, a suspect simply acting nervous or fidgeting, or a suspect being in an area of past criminal activity during late and unusual hours is not enough to justify a founded or reasonable suspicion sufficient to support an investigative stop." However, officers can still pull over drivers for matching a generalized description.
Reporting stop details
Florida has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). However, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, which formed a Subcommittee on Accountability and Societal Change in the wake of the George Floyd murder, released a report in September 2020 that recommended comprehensive reporting requirements. The requirements would include reporting when an officer points a firearm at someone, even if it is never discharged.
Pending Legislation: SB 454, introduced in January 2021, establishes reporting requirements for incident type, demographics of officer and arestee, and whether the stop arose out of a vehicle traffic stop or a stop made on foot.
Reckless civil rights violation
Florida has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
Florida has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. Attorney General's can bring a suit against anyone for violating civil rights, but the process is not institutionalized.
Pending Legislation: SB 462, introduced in January 2021, would require that "the state attorney of a judicial circuit in which a law enforcement officer use of force death occurs to request that a state attorney from another judicial circuit review the case and make a certain written and detailed recommendation."
Florida has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Florida has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, St. Petersburg police announced they will forfeit a 3 million dollar grant to hire new officers and relocate funds into hiring social workers to respond to non-violent calls. Orlando Police Department officers responding to people who are in mental health crises could soon be joined by a social worker, counselor or therapist, as part of a pilot program announced in July 2020.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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