The Florida Highway Patrol has been patrolling Florida roadways since 1939. It was created to provide uniform traffic enforcement and investigation across the state, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, there was a serious attempt this past legislative session to give the FHP’s duties top local sheriffs.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers came close to wearing the green uniforms of Sheriff’s deputies this past legislative session. The jobs of more than 1500 troopers were almost given to local sheriffs. It would have been the biggest outsourcing in recent history and it was backed by Governor Rick Scott. It was the Sheriffs, not the patrol, that pushed back and said no.
“If a deal was worked out, the funding might be here one year and the funding could disappear in the next legislative session,” Harrell Reid, president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association said.
The switch could have potentially raised local property taxes, but the fight is not over.
Tucked into a Senate Bill is legislation requiring a study of consolidating all law enforcement functions, everything from the FHP to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Agricultural agents and more. That same legislation moved DOT officers who inspect large 18-wheelers to the Highway Patrol.
When state government reorganized in the late 1960s, law enforcement agencies were purposely kept apart so no one agency would have total control.
Rick Scott side stepped the question of why he was willing to transfer the Patrol to local sheriffs, and instead talked about what he hopes the study finds.
“It’s good to have a conversation about how can we do a good job with what the state ought to be involved with in law enforcement,” Scott said.
The study is due before lawmakers meet in January.