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Historic Police Reform Headed to Governor

April 29th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

The most sweeping police reform bill in decades is on its way to the Governor.

The legislation bans chokeholds in most scenarios, requires data collection on the use of force and requires independent investigations when an officer discharges their weapon or causes bodily harm.

The legislation was inspired by the death of George Floyd.

“And we should tell the world to keep watching,” said State Senator Darryl Rouson.

At its center, the legislation creates new training criteria for new officers and recertification of those on the force.

“Not even within agencies do they believe that every single officer is perfect. Training and standards can help that,” said State Senator Audrey Gibson.

But even supporters say it doesn’t go far enough.

“There’s no penalties in this bill, but it is a great step forward,” said Rouson.

“What we don’t see in here today is ending qualified immunity, banning no knock warrants, banning racial and religious profiling and creating a national database of police misconduct,” said State Senator Shevrin Jones.

The support of police agencies helped the legislation pass, including the Florida Sheriffs Association.

No GOP Senators spoke as the bill was passing, but the vote was unanimous

Afterwards, Gibson told us the data collection required in the bill would show where more work is needed.

“It will show you communities, neighborhoods, blocks, zip codes, incidents, all those kinds of things and what police response was. Did somebody die? Were they severely injured?” said Gibson.

And after a six year old was hand cuffed at her school last year for a temper tantrum, the legislation bans the arrest of children under the age of seven, except for forcible felonies.

The legislation also requires outside reviews of the use of weapons or extreme force, and requires agencies and officers to disclose if someone was under investigation when they leave an agency.

The Legislative Black Caucus met with the Governor Thursday and told us afterward they are hopeful he will sign the legislation.

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