By The News Service of Florida
With members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus set to debut a slate of proposals to “support fair and just policing,” House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne told reporters Monday “they are not trying to defund the police.”
The Black caucus will hold a news conference Tuesday to roll out policing-related legislation, and Jenne said the proposals are aimed at ushering in “a more modern approach” to law enforcement practices. “When you look at a lot of … the proposals that are going to be included in this package that the Black caucus rolls out over the next couple days, it’s actually not going to be defunding the police, it’s going to see an increase in funding to police,” Jenne, D-Dania Beach, said.
He said ideas in the caucus’ proposals are based on “ways to alleviate potential tension between the Black community throughout our state and all communities of color and the police department, to have it be less adversarial.”
During an online media availability, Jenne also raised concerns Monday about legislation (HB 1 and SB 484) that is a priority of House and Senate Republican leaders. In part, that legislation is designed to crack down on violent protests. But Jenne decried what he called a “very punitive” part of the proposal that seeks to allow a state override of potential efforts by local governments to decrease law enforcement spending.
“It gives no exception to the fact that we’re in the middle of a recession, it gives no exception to the fact that revenues are down — it just says if you cut anything from law enforcement, you’re going to get called up to Tallahassee to explain why you’re wrong,” Jenne said.
While the Legislature is controlled by Republicans, Jenne said House Democrats will try everything they can to “slow these bills down, modify them however we can,” but “flexibility has never been a characteristic that I would … attribute” to House leaders.
Calls by some groups to defund the police became a hot-button political issue during last year’s election campaigns, with Republicans using the issue to criticize Democrats.