Orange County

New Orange-Osceola County state attorney creating new unit to investigate allegations of police brutality, misconduct

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The new Orange-Osceola County state attorney said she is setting up a new unit that will investigate allegations of police brutality and misconduct from the public.

Channel 9 investigative reporter and anchor Daralene Jones spoke with Monique Worrell in a wide-ranging interview this week ahead of her inauguration ceremony on Friday.

READ: New Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell talks criminal justice reform, changes already underway in office

Worrell campaigned as a reform candidate, and the new unit is part of that platform.

Typically, if you feel like an officer used excessive force or was involved in misconduct you might file a complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division. Worrell said this unit is for people who don’t feel comfortable with that system.

“The combination of the pandemic and some of the egregious misconduct and brutality that we’ve seen over the last year gives the community valid reason for that concern,” said Worrell.

READ: Outgoing state attorney issues death penalty waivers in 2 high-profile murder cases

Last summer, protesters demanded more police accountability and transparency following the public murder of George Floyd and prior to that Breonna Taylor. Both were killed by police in other states, but their deaths sparked outrage worldwide, including here in Central Florida, and kept a floodlight on how police brutality and misconduct disproportionately impact the black community.

Worrell plans to provide a new avenue for all citizens to pursue justice in those cases.

READ: ‘All I have now is memories’: Mom wants incoming state attorney to reopen son’s hot car death case

“I intend to put together a unit whose responsibility it is to investigate claims of misconduct, allegations of brutality against the community, and we will deal with those based on the results of that investigation,” Worrell said. “It’s important to me that we weed those individuals out, so that those who come to work every day to  uphold the law can receive the respect, the credibility and the safety and security that they deserve.”

Worrell said a lack of resources would make it difficult for her to pursue bypassing the existing investigation process for deadly force cases. Already short staffed, the office has a backlog of traditional cases because of the pandemic. But she promised:

READ: Family ‘deeply disappointed and enraged’ after outgoing state attorney issues death penalty waivers in high-profile murder cases

“I will absolutely continue to investigate the claims that come from (Florida Department of Law Enforcement),” Worrell said. “I’ve spoken with FDLE with regard to those shoot reviews and how our office will handle them. I will do what I can to create efficiencies where that’s concerned because I know an issue has been the time in which it takes our office to get through those.”

Jones also asked how Worrell will handle death penalty cases going forward.

Watch the video below to hear her answer.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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