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Bipartisan police reform bill passes Florida legislature

Posted at 11:50 AM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 11:56:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Florida Senate passed House Bill 7051, Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer Practices on Thursday. It received zero “no” votes on the House and Senate floor on its way to Governor DeSantis’ desk.

The bill makes several changes to the requirements for the operations and standards of law enforcement and correctional agencies and training for law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and correctional probation officers.

The bill also incorporates provisions of the “Kaia Rolle Act,” sponsored by Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee), which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this month and prohibits the arrest of a child younger than seven years of age.

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus identified this as a priority back in the summer, following the protests in reaction to the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin on the street in Minneapolis.

Some of the key provisions include: prohibiting the arrest of children under the age of 7 unless for a forcible felony, data collection on use of force incidents, making it harder for problematic officers to change jobs undetected, and establishing a clear duty to interfere when fellow officers are using excessive force.

The legislation also requires the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to develop standards for instruction to be incorporated into the basic skills training for officers and each law enforcement or correctional agency to develop policies regarding the use of force, including proportional use of force, alternatives to use of force, de-escalation techniques, and limiting the use of a chokehold, among others.

The policies and training would also cover the duty to intervene if an officer is on-duty and witnesses another officer using or attempting to use excessive force when such intervention is reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. Specifically, the duty to render medical assistance following the use of force when an officer knows, or when it is otherwise evident, that a person who is detained or in custody is injured or requires medical attention, and instruction on the recognition and characteristics of a person with a substance abuse disorder or mental illness and appropriate responses to such a person.

Further, the bill requires an independent review of a use of force incident involving death or the intentional discharge of a firearm that results in injury or death to any person to be conducted by another law enforcement agency, a law enforcement officer employed by another agency, or the state attorney and requires such agency or officer to complete a report to be provided to the state attorney.

Each law enforcement agency must report use of force incidents that result in serious bodily injury, death, or the discharge of a firearm at a person to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on a quarterly basis.

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