Legislature to protect location records for police officers and their vehicles

by | Dec 1, 2021


 

Representative Matt Willhite (Wellington) filed House Bill 773 (HB 773) on Wednesday, which will exempt public records requirements for law enforcement geolocation information held by a law enforcement agency.

Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) use information collected through a GPS system or other mapping locational method that tracks the location or movement of other officers or police vehicles. HB 773 aims to protect records of location and movement from being accessible to the public.

A companion bill was filed in the Senate (SB 1046) by Senator Ed Hooper.

“Day after day, law enforcement officers work in dangerous situations. Because of this, certain information, such as their home address, is exempt from public-records requirements,” said Willhite. “We understand that many law enforcement officers drive their law enforcement vehicle to and from work on top of using the vehicle while they are at work. In other words, law enforcement officers often take their law enforcement vehicle home where their families live. The potential exposure of a law enforcement officers’ residence puts the officers and their families at unnecessary risk.”

This exemption does not apply to routine traffic citations, crash reports, homicide reports, arrest 32 reports, incident reports, or any other official reports issued by an agency which contain law enforcement geolocation information, according to the text of the bill.

The verbiage of SB 1046 matches that of HB 773. “It is imperative now more than ever to support and protect the privacy of law enforcement officers,” said Hooper. “Senate Bill 1046 and House Bill 773 will add additional layers of privacy and protection to the possible exposure of a law enforcement officer’s home address, increasing the chance of harm to them and their families. I look forward to working with Representative Willhite to keep law enforcement officers and their families safe.”

Both bills are scheduled to go into effect on July 1st, 2022.

Governor Ron DeSantis unveiled his law enforcement budget proposal earlier this week, where he announced plans to allocate additional financial resources to police, disperse pay bonuses for all new and previously serving officers, and raise base wages of correctional officers statewide.

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