(Indianapolis) December 7, 2023 – Complaints Against Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers (H0 601) is a Florida bill that gives the State jurisdiction in processing grievances of law enforcement officers. This bill, which was introduced on November 21, 2023 by Rep. Wyman Duggan (12) for examination in Florida’s 2024 legislative session, is currently in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. The bill’s text can be found here.
Too often, local civilian review board appointees hold an anti-police bias and a weak grasp of the rigors and legal aspects associated with police work. Making recommendations based on these criteria harms police morale, and can generate unfounded narratives that damage police-community relations.
If enacted, local, county, and special government units would be prohibited from investigating complaints against police officers; and from passing rules, ordinances, and resolutions on police misconduct. As a result, local governments would be unable to establish civilian oversight committees. In Florida, civilian oversight boards are legally disallowed from imposing penalties on police officers. They can, however, offer policy recommendations and conduct procedural investigations.
There is also little policy coherence within Florida’s 21 citizen review boards, so officers are subjected to arbitrary rules. The state of Florida already provides independent oversight and investigation of law enforcement officers via multiple government agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Attorney General, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Within this framework, officers accused of malfeasance are robustly investigated using a set of uniform, legal standards. This process allows for transparency and accountability while providing officers with their Constitutional right to due process of law.
Citizens with concerns about law enforcement would still have opportunities to exercise their First Amendment rights via venues like public government meetings -including those held by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement- and by petitioning their elected officials.
“The Complaints Against Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers bill establishes a fair, uniform standard that protects an officer’s Constitutional right to due process,” said Paula Fitzsimmons, Legislative Director, National Police Association. “The multiple layers of government oversight are designed to provide a reliable level of transparency and accountability, without subverting a citizen’s first amendment rights,” Fitzsimmons added. For these reasons, we urge the Florida legislature to pass the Complaints Against Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers bill.
The written testimony submitted to the Florida legislature is here.
About The National Police Association: The National Police Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit Educational/Advocacy organization. For additional information visit www.nationalpolice.org.