Black lawmakers heralded a starting point to improve community interactions with police, by giving final approval to a bill that includes use-of-force training requirements for officers.
HB 7051 is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, and seeks to address aspects of policing.
“With the summer of unrest after the George Floyd murder, we needed to do substantial criminal-justice reform. This is a good start. It gives us a foundation to build upon for next session,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson.
New standards are aimed at limiting officers’ use of chokeholds “to circumstances where the officer perceives an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death to himself, herself, or another person.” Under the bill changes to the way officers are trained also would include “alternatives to use of force, including de-escalation techniques.” Training also would instruct officers on a “duty to intervene in another officer’s excessive use of force,” and a “duty to render medical assistance following use of force.”
Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, acknowledged the dangers that police officers face on the job.
“Those law enforcement officers, correctional officers — they’re our family, they’re our friends, they’re our church members, they’re our neighbors. They’re not perfect, and none of us are. They go into harm’s way on a daily basis. But, those things that we’ve seen nationally could have been avoided. That’s where the training and standards come in,” Gibson said.
Independent reviews would be mandated for use-of-force incidents involving deaths and intentional discharges of officers’ firearms if they result in injuries or deaths. The findings of those reviews would be reported to state attorneys.
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