One of the state’s most influential police leadership associations has issued a report containing key recommendations that they say will increase police accountability and strength the trust with the communities they serve. But a cursory review of eight “highlighted” recommendations appear to break little new ground in the use of deadly force by police, as many of the recommendations are already widely followed by police departments throughout Florida.
Several of the recommendations were utilized by the police officers involved in the shooting death of Jacob Blake, including de-escalation tactics and verbal warnings, but many of the most effective recommendations relate to reporting, post-incident transparency, and other changes designed to build trust through accountability.
It’s not clear how many departments already have similar guidelines codified in departmental policies, but the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) released the report from a subcommittee that was established in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and the association’s goal is to push for wide adoption of the recommendations.
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association promised to lead the way to strengthen trust and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said FPCA president and Satellite Beach Police Department Chief Jeff Pearson. “This report puts those promises into action.”
The report makes numerous recommendations on the use of force and other related issues, using the 2020 National Consensus Policy and other nationally recognized talking points as the foundation of discussion, and sets additional guiding principles that Florida law enforcement agencies should follow. Highlights include:
- Requiring de-escalation whenever possible and appropriate before resorting to force.
- Requiring verbal warnings before shooting, where feasible.
- Requiring an officer’s duty to intervene to prevent or stop another officer’s use of excessive force.
- Requiring comprehensive reporting when force is used, including reporting when an officer points a firearm at someone, even if it is not discharged.
- Recommending that in the case of a critical incident, law enforcement administrators release as much information as appropriate under the law as quickly as possible, to reduce the spread of rumors and incorrect information.
- Reaffirming the principle of officer accountability for the use of excessive force or other policy violations, as allowed under the Officer’s Bill of Rights, Florida’s public records law, and other legal requirements.
- Calling for a renewed focus on actively recruiting police officers that reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) represents more than 900 of Florida’s top law enforcement executives, and provides guidance and leadership for the future of law enforcement in the state. The FPCA provides guidance and other services to municipal, airport, college and university, and tribal police departments, as well as private businesses and security firms and federal, state and county law enforcement agencies across every region of the state