By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — A late-session push by the Florida House to require new training standards for police officers is ready to go to the Senate floor this week after unanimously passing the House.
The proposal (HB 7051), in part, would place restrictions on when police officers can use chokeholds and would require officers’ training to include “alternatives to use of force, including de-escalation techniques.”
The Senate Rules Committee held a meeting Tuesday specifically to consider the bill, approving it in a 17-0 vote. Rules Chairwoman Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said the bill likely will be considered on the Senate floor Thursday, the next-to-last day of the legislative session.
The House voted 113-0 on Monday to pass the measure, sponsored by Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, and Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa.
The legislation is a response to the nationwide debate on policing practices after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer in May. Lawmakers said Tuesday the bill is a “starting point.”
“I think that it would be horrible if we didn’t have some type of legislation that’s coming to say, ‘Well, we recognize what’s going on in society … and we’re trying to address it,’” Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said.
Thurston, who is Black, said he is “still concerned” when he thinks about potential interactions between police and his nearly 30-year-old son.
“This (bill) is something hopefully that’s going to benefit the community and save lives,” Thurston said. “We don’t want police encounters to be life-threatening situations.”
New training standards for officers under the bill would be required to include a “duty to intervene in another officer’s excessive use of force,” and a “duty to render medical assistance following use of force.”
Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, cited a slew of policing-reform measures filed by the Florida Legislative Black Caucus heading into this session that were never heard in committees.
Those proposals included mandating that body cameras be worn by officers in every Florida law- enforcement agency and prohibiting law-enforcement agencies from buying surplus military equipment.
Gibson, who is Black, described the measure that advanced Tuesday addressing standards as “a place the community and law enforcement could reach some agreement.”
“I do believe that training and standards, first and foremost, is extremely important when situations are not so friendly,” Gibson said, so that “we don’t see some of those egregious things that happened during the summer to largely African Americans.”
Under the measure, officers applying for jobs at other police agencies would have to disclose pending investigations into “criminal, civil, or administrative wrongdoing.”
Law enforcement agencies also would be required to “maintain employment information for a minimum of 5 years after the date of the officer’s termination, resignation, or retirement.”
The proposal would mandate that independent reviews be conducted in use-of-force incidents involving deaths or intentional discharges of firearms that result in injuries or deaths. The findings of those reviews would be reported to state attorneys.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, touted the measure’s passing Monday in the House.
“About 90 percent of Americans want at least the same or more policing in their community. House Bill 7051 continues to build faith and trust in law enforcement,” Sprowls said in a statement.
Attorney General Ashley Moody also backed the measure.
“These are steps that are going to go a long way to start building that relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. I’m so proud of the folks that have worked on this,” Moody told The News Service of Florida.
—News Service staff writer Tom Urban contributed to this report
Police have ALWAYS been taught “deescalation” and use of the minimal use of force necessary. The difference now days is the amount of “folks” who think nothing of resisting arrest & fighting police (of course we need to address why the person is being arrested in the first place – as Tony says: STOP COMMITTING CRIMES). As in so many issues – this has been turned up side down: the police are NOT the problem.
“Thurston, who is Black, said he is “still concerned” when he thinks about potential interactions between police and his nearly 30-year-old son.”
Then TELL your “Nearly 30 Year Old ADULT” Son to DO AS HE IS TOLD and NOT TO RESIST. 99% of the Blacks that were shot by Cops WERE RESISTING. If they would have complied, and done as told and NOT Resisted, they ALL would be alive today. It really IS that simple. Yes, a lot of them would have been Arrested because, the had Warrants for their Arrests. Most of THEM would have been released that very Day. You bring it on yourselves. STOP being Argumentative, STOP being Combative, STOP Resisting, STOP Fighting, STOP Running, STOP giving a Cop a reason to put his/her Hand on their Gun. OH, and the big one……… STOP COMMITTING CRIMES.
The level of lies and misrepresentations coming from the NaziCrats is astounding. Their data references are the complete antithesis of facts and reality. The NaziCrats, their Media PACs, and the Big Tech puppets of the CCP sell hate and division… it’s what they do; it’s all they know; it’s who they are.
Google Joyce+Rush Limbaugh… and listen to a woman “of color” explain the truth about what the real problem is within our communities “of color”.
Lots of concerns from elected nannies who’s political party has so much inocent blood on its hands from the antifa mostly “Peacefull” protests.
Look out Florida they might get “Woke-a-Cola” to chastise us!!!!!!
Good job and kudos for all Florida’s Senators and Representatives with common sense that pushed this bill across the finish line!!
Enjoy an ice cold Pepsi-Cola or two to celebrate.