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The Florida Senate

President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 29, 2021

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Senate Passes Legislation to Improve, Codify Public Safety Practices in Law Enforcement

Legislation incorporates the “Kaia Rolle Act,” prevents arrests of children under 7, Makes necessary reforms to ensure accountability, transparency, and safety in policing practices

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 7051, Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer Practices. The bill makes several changes to the requirements for the operations and standards of law enforcement and correctional agencies and training for law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and correctional probation officers. The bill also incorporates provisions of the “Kaia Rolle Act,” sponsored by Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee), which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this month and prohibits the arrest of a child younger than seven years of age.

“This comprehensive legislation incorporates a number of needed policy changes and enhancements the Senate addressed in separate pieces of legislation this session, and I am grateful to Senator Bracy for his diligent work with our House colleagues to put together this strong, bipartisan package that reflects our commitment to improving and in many cases codifying existing policies that guide the actions of Florida’s brave law enforcement and correctional officers,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby). “We stand by the dedicated members of law enforcement who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our communities. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from a good faith review of our policing policies, because we want to make sure every law enforcement officer has the resources and training to keep our communities safe.”

“I am pleased to see the House and Senate join forces behind this critical legislation. Kaia Rolle has gone through a lot since her arrest, and while unfortunately we can’t erase that trauma, this bill sends a clear message that what happened to Kaia should never happen again in Florida. There is a clear difference between serious criminal activity and innocent childhood conduct. This is a great day for Kaia and her family,” said Senator Bracy. “This legislation is just the beginning, but I’m pleased to see that we are taking an important step toward repairing relationships and rebuilding the trust in law enforcement that is needed for strong, safe communities.”

HB 7051 prohibits the arrest of a child younger than seven years of age, unless the violation of law is a forcible felony. The legislation also requires an applicant for employment as a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or a correctional probation officer to disclose whether he or she is the subject of a pending investigation and whether he or she separated or resigned from previous criminal justice employment while under investigation.

The legislation also requires the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to develop standards for instruction to be incorporated into the basic skills training for officers and each law enforcement or correctional agency to develop policies regarding the use of force, including proportional use of force, alternatives to use of force, de-escalation techniques, and limiting the use of a chokehold, among others.  The policies and training would also cover the duty to intervene if an officer is on-duty and witnesses another officer using or attempting to use excessive force when such intervention is reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. Specifically, the duty to render medical assistance following the use of force when an officer knows, or when it is otherwise evident, that a person who is detained or in custody is injured or requires medical attention, and instruction on the recognition and characteristics of a person with a substance abuse disorder or mental illness and appropriate responses to such a person.

Further, the bill requires an independent review of a use of force incident involving death or the intentional discharge of a firearm that results in injury or death to any person to be conducted by another law enforcement agency, a law enforcement officer employed by another agency, or the state attorney and requires such agency or officer to complete a report to be provided to the state attorney. Each law enforcement agency must report use of force incidents that result in serious bodily injury, death, or the discharge of a firearm at a person to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on a quarterly basis.