The Florida House unanimously passed HB 7051, a bipartisan police reform bill designed to be a compromise piece of legislation satisfying the requests of conservatives as well as social justice advocates.
One of the main staples of the bill is amending current use-of-force protocol for law enforcement officers. Each police force and law enforcement agency in the state will now be required to have a use-of-force standard. This would, in essence, create a statewide minimum standard, including methods to de-escalate situations. Chokeholds are banned unless the officer “perceives an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death.” If another officer is witnessing excessive use of force, they will now be required to intervene.
The bill will also streamline communication across law enforcement agencies by requiring applying officers to disclose if they have been under investigation or are currently under investigation related to use-of-force.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-102) said the bill is part of the good-faith effort to restore trust in law enforcement.
“About 90 percent of Americans want at least the same or more policing in their community,” said Sprowls. “House Bill 7051 continues to build faith and trust in law enforcement. With these measures, we can begin our work to recognize good police practices and affirm confidence in policing. Our first priority as lawmakers should be to keep Floridians and their communities safe.”
As AG, I have worked diligently to foster positive relationships between LEOs & the communities they swore an oath to protect. I want to thank Speaker @ChrisSprowls & the House for passing HB 7051 to usher in meaningful steps to improve policing in FL.https://t.co/SbigDb4GEj pic.twitter.com/vkRBB4C4TL
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) April 26, 2021
Democratic lawmakers also took to the House floor to express their support for the bill.
HB 7051 has passed the House unanimously. I would like to thank all of my colleagues for this good, bipartisan legislation. Shoutout to @FentriceForFL Representative Fentrice Driskell for being the prime co-sponsor for this legislation. pic.twitter.com/VEjGdsaChA
— Kamia Brown (@kamiabrownfl45) April 26, 2021
“This bill is a testament of when we work together what we can really accomplish,” said Rep. Marie Paule Woodson (D-101).
Some Democrats said the bill is a good start, but noted the legislation doesn’t go far enough regarding police practices.
The Florida Senate is expected to take up the bill before the end of the legislative session this week and send it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not signaled his approval or disapproval of the bill.
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