FORT MYERS, Fla -- In the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Fox 4 reached out to local law enforcement agencies and the police academy to see if they’re changing the way officers interact with people during an arrest.
Todd Everly, senior director of the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy, said there's a new curriculum for recruits but it's not the result of the verdict.
Everly said it's a combination of things that were already being discussed and changes in direct response to the death of George Floyd last year.
There are forty training academies in the state that are certified under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which governs recruit training. Starting July 1, its new curriculum will reflect changes made in regard to de-escalation and dealing with diverse communities.
“That has been added a little bit more. It's always in the curriculum, but there's a little bit more of an emphasis now on those, on those blocks of training. We did not add hours to the curriculum this current year because there was some adjustments. We changed and took hours out of certain other areas to add what the state really felt was, uh, a little bit more important that we needed to add at the basic recruit level,” said Everly.
Everly said these techniques were already a part of the curriculum but there's more emphasis now.
He went further in-depth on what the "dealing with diverse communities" curriculum will entail.
“We look at that each year. We understand that more and more people are moving into the state and we're going to have more of a diversity,” said Everly. “We need to teach um our officers, young and older in the field, that you know different communities and different diverse groups look at people differently. And they have different um you know different responses when you're dealing with them and and talking with them when you're called to a scene or even saying hi,” he added.
We also reached out to the local police departments and sheriff's offices for comment. Most either have not responded yet or declined our request.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office did direct us to a series of social media posts from last summer. Fox 4 reported on these at the time. The agency said that through long standing and recently updated policies, it meets eight public safety practices being discussed across the nation. This includes a ban on chokeholds and duty to intervene with regard to use of force.