ORLANDO, Fla. — State attorney Monique Worrell is pushing for big changes to hold law enforcement officers accountable when they violate the rules.
Worrell laid out her plans to a delegation of lawmakers ahead of this year’s session, including a wish list of changes she wants to make to state law including The Brady List, a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene and potential increased punishment when they commit certain crimes.
The state attorney has been clear about reviewing officer conduct including a special unit to look at officer misconduct and police brutality. A lot of what she is proposing is already policy at many departments, some of which were made after George Floyd’s death.
However, Worrell wants to take those things from just a policy to a law.
That means if followed, it would not just be a department violation, it could mean a criminal charge.
One of Worrell’s first orders of business when she took office was a plan to create a unit to look at police misconduct and police brutality.
Read Worrell’s full statement below:
Criminal justice reform includes an element of law enforcement accountability that I believe is a source of contention and responsible for the creation of a false choice between protecting our communities and protecting our police officers. We can and must do both. While there are certainly extremists on either side of this issue, reasonable minds agree that two things are true: harm to our communities at the hands of police is wrong, and so is violence against members of law enforcement. The reclassification of laws which govern offenses against law enforcement officers make it abundantly clear that acts of violence against law enforcement officers will be punished severely.
For example, in the state of Florida, a battery against a non-law enforcement officer citizen is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail, whereas that same battery against a law enforcement officer is reclassified as a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. There are no similar laws that govern the actions of law enforcement officers who inflict harm upon members of the community. The legislative action requests that I have submitted provide similar protections for the community, holding officers fully accountable for intentional acts of harm towards members of the community and would require other officers to intervene, render aid and report misconduct of their fellow officers.
We must hold officers accountable when they break the law, instead of excusing or turning a blind eye to their misconduct. Law enforcement officers are people, capable of human error. There are also bad actors who abuse their power, and that breach of trust requires that they be held accountable for the harm they cause. Ultimately, in order to truly achieve strong and safe communities, we must work collaboratively. Failure to do so is detrimental to the well-being of our community.
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