FORT MYERS, Fla. — In an executive order signed by President Biden, federal law enforcement agencies are now required to have body cameras, limit no-knock warrants, and only use chokeholds in certain circumstances.
The legislation was signed two years to the day of the George Floyd murder.
"To address profound fear and trauma, exhaustion, that particularly black Americans have experienced for generations," Biden said. "And to channel that private plain and public outrage and to a rare mark of progress for years to come."
Local police departments in Southwest Florida do not have to follow the rules, though some are already following many of the order's policies.
"I do think it helps as a motivation, particularly for funding, to come down and help local agencies to get better whether it's funding equipment, training, and so on and so forth," said Dr. Randy Nelson, the director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Bethune Cookman University in Daytona.
Nelson says some of the policies laid out in the executive order are already in place in Florida.
"If you look at many law enforcement agencies, whether it's the chokehold or the no-knock warrants — a lot of agencies are already doing that, even without this executive order," he explained.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office and Cape Coral Police would not comment on their policies. The Fort Myers Police spokesperson did provide a statement.
As an Internationally Accredited Law Enforcement Agency, certified in Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The Fort Myers Police Department remains on the cutting edge for police policy, procedure and best practice. As such, the provisions identified in President Bidens Executive Order on Police Form, although newly required for federal law enforcement agencies, are already in effect for the Fort Myers Police Department. These policies, procedures and proofs of compliance are independently reviewed annually by CALEA professional assessors. Additionally, the FMPD is in full compliance with the Presidential Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities, (dated June 16, 2020), Executive Order No. 13929. This compliance certification ensures the police department remains eligible for the U.S. Department of Justice's discretionary grant funding only available to state, local, and university or college law enforcement agencies that have obtained certification through a credentialing body.
Last year, Gov. DeSantis signed many of the regulations into law. Florida agencies must already limit chokeholds, have better use of force training, and policies for those investigations.
"What I hope they take out of this is this is another opportunity to get better," Nelson said.
Also under the executive order, only federal agencies need to have body cameras. Both Cape Coral Police and Fort Myers have body cameras, while LCSO does not.