Recently, a debate began within the Tallahassee community after the Tallahassee Police Department published the names and photos of juveniles who had been arrested for felony burglary. Typically, law enforcement departments do not release the identity of people under the age of 18 if they have committed nonserious crimes.
Many Tallahassee community members have questioned TPD’s policy for choosing which cases to release. TPD has released photos of minors with serious charges before, but some people pointed out that all of the photos published recently were of African American juveniles.
According to a Facebook post by City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell said that, while it is legal to release the names and photos of minors who have committed a felony, TPD plans to review its policy in the future.
Revell said that the conditions that warrant releasing the identifying information of minors will be reviewed. There will also be an opportunity for a public discussion on the issue.
Other jurisdictions outside of Tallahassee have no formal policy for handling these situations.
Captain Jorge Campos, Operations Bureau Commander of the Gainesville Police Department, said Gainesville has no specific policy for handling the issue.
Campos said releasing the identifying information of minors is considered on a case-by-case basis, and it can depend on the status of the investigation along with other factors. He said photos and other information can also be released through public records requests.
According to Section 985.04 of Title XLVII of the 2019 Florida Statutes, if a minor has been charged with a felony offense, their identification information is not considered confidential on the sole basis of their age.
Laws in other states, like California, also allow releasing juvenile records if the crime would be classified as a felony for adults or if there is a warrant for the juvenile’s arrest. However, some states, including Colorado, have signed provisions to disallow releasing the identities of juveniles who have committed serious crimes.
In Tallahassee, the meeting to review TPD’s policy has not been scheduled yet.