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Compromise reached on Use of Force bill

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Police agencies in Florida will no longer be allowed to use chokeholds except when an officer or someone else’s life is in danger under a bipartisan compromise in the State Capitol.

Officers will now have a duty to intervene when they witness the improper use of force.

The legislation bans choke holds except in life threatening situations, and all of Florida is 400+ police agencies will have to report officer involved use of force to the state when it results in serious bodily injury, death or if a firearm was discharged.

“If a very large county with millions residents has a lower use of force than a smaller county, maybe we need to find out why. What training is being done?” said Representative Cord Byrd.

Officers will also be required to intervene when they witness a fellow officer use improper force.

“No one dislikes a bad law enforcement officer more than a good law enforcement officer,” said Byrd.

Florida’s Sherriff’s support the legislation.

“I don’t see us giving up anything. I see it as a really good opportunity to everything from collect data to eliminate things, that quite frankly, not best practices. The choke hold for instance. Most agencies have removed that or are in the process of removing it,” said Walton County Sheriff Mike Atkinson.

Law enforcement agencies will have to be truthful, on the record about why they fired a bad apple.

Applicants will also have to tell the truth if they resigned before being fired.

“This will be a great change helping make sure those bad apples, those bad officers can’t jump from agency to agency and just leave behind their bad disciplinary history,” said Representative Fentrice Driskell.

And after a six-year-old was handcuffed at her school in Orlando last year, this legislation prohibits the arrest of anyone younger than seven.

There is also new training required on proportional use of force, deescalation and dealing with mentally ill or drug-using suspects.

The legislation also prohibits law enforcement agencies from investigating one of their own when shots are fired, someone dies or there is an allegation of excessive force.

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