In Florida, the investigation of police misconduct is a multi-layered process involving several entities.
The primary responsibility for investigating complaints against law enforcement officers lies with the employing agency of the officer. This could be a local police department, a county sheriff’s office, or a state agency like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). These agencies are required to conduct an internal investigation if they believe an officer has not maintained the minimum standards of certification or has violated moral character standards.
If an officer’s misconduct is sustained by the internal investigation, the findings are forwarded to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC). The CJSTC, overseen by the FDLE, has the authority to discipline an officer’s certification if the officer fails to maintain the standards of certification.
In some cases, a sworn or certified investigator from a separate law enforcement or correctional agency may be requested to conduct the investigation. This can occur when there’s a conflict with having an investigator from the same employing agency conduct the investigation, the employing agency doesn’t have an investigator trained to conduct such investigations, or the agency’s investigator is the subject of, or a witness in, the investigation.
In addition to these internal mechanisms, there are also external oversight bodies. Some cities in Florida, like North Miami, have established Citizens Investigative Boards (CIBs) to provide civilian oversight for misconduct accusations against police officers. The CIBs provide an independent forum where complaints and accusations can be evaluated.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida also plays a role in monitoring police practices and advocating for reforms. They receive hundreds of complaints of police misconduct every year.
However, it’s important to note that a recent proposal in the Florida House of Representatives seeks to give the state control of investigating complaints against law enforcement and correctional officers, taking away authority from local officials. If passed, this bill would also bar local governments from passing ordinances or rules related to investigating complaints about misconduct by law enforcement and correctional officers.
For more information on police oversight and accountability, you may want to explore the following resources:
- The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) is a non-profit organization that brings together individuals and agencies working to establish or improve oversight of police officers in the United States.
- The Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) provides resources and expertise to professionals engaged in police oversight and city and police leaders seeking to institute reforms.
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) provides information on the professional compliance (disciplinary) process for law enforcement officers.
- The ACLU of Florida provides resources and advocacy on issues related to police practices.
Please note that the landscape of police oversight and accountability is continually evolving, and it’s important to stay informed about current laws and proposals in your area.