Tougher Rules for Law Officers

By Julie Montanaro
March 21, 5:40pm

Law enforcement and corrections officers in Florida may soon be held to a higher standard when complaints are filed against them.

This week, four prison guards at the Hendry Correctional Institution were accused of beating up an inmate who had filed a grievance against them. That and recent confrontations at the Bay County Boot Camp and a juvenile facility in Liberty County make the timing of House Bill 723 significant.

"I think they help very dramatically illustrate the importance of having these rules in place to make the public feel confident that both the officers on the street and those investigating their conduct are held to the highest level of accountability," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kevin Ambler of Tampa.

"For better or worse, the truth should come out," said David Murrell with the Florida Police Benevolent Association, "and it's very important, the integrity of the system, and we think the citizens want to have a good feeling about their criminal justice system and this will add to it."

The bill would require all law enforcement officers who are the subject of complaints to make statements under oath and be subject to perjury charges should they lie to investigators.