This week was the first full fledge committee week of the 2017 Legislative Session. Both chambers were in action with lengthy committee meetings focusing on next fiscal year’s budget forecast. The money is projected to be tight for the next three years. The Legislature will need to set priorities (the wants versus the needs). PBA’s job is to ensure that law enforcement and corrections (public safety in general) is a need … a must for priority funding.
The Legislature must fund public safety. And by fund public safety, PBA believes the Legislature needs to focus on increasing the salaries of our state officers, along with maintaining and enhancing the benefit packages for all FRS employed officers. We are not going to sit by passively this year simply because budget projections are tighter than expected.
Our priorities over the past week were to secure sponsors for two of our legislative agenda items. We were able to fully accomplish both goals.
Review of Body Camera Footage
The legislation will allow an officer to review footage from a body worn camera prior to writing a report, or making a statement on an officer involved incident. Although several jurisdictions already have the policy in standard operation procedures; there are outliers. We strongly believe not having this policy in place severely hampers an officer’s ability to fully utilize body cameras as a tool. Whether you like body cameras, or not, preventing this provision in an agency’s SOP puts the officer, the agency and, perhaps justice itself, in jeopardy. Our sponsors are Senator Greg Steube and Representative Shawn Harrison. Bill numbers are to be announced.
Career Development Plan for Public Safety Officers
For the second year, the PBA will lobby for the creation of a Public Safety Officers’ Career Development Plan. The legislation requires each agency to establish a Career Development Plan for state law enforcement officers, state correctional officers, state correctional probation officers and state forestry firefighters. All of these officers are among the lowest paid in the state and nation. This legislation will set the agencies on a path to creating a sustainable salary plan that helps to recruit and retain public safety professionals. The details of this legislation will most certainly shift and adjust as it moves through the process. The end result will be a plan that provides salary increases to officers objectively based on their experience and ability. Our sponsors are Senate Budget Chairman Jack Latvala (SB 168) and Representative Bobby Payne (bill number is TBA).
Please join me in thanking the following PBA leaders for joining us in Tallahassee this week: Ernie George, John Kazanjian, Mick McHale, Gary Bradford, Jim Baiardi, Terrance Bing, Chris Kirkland and David Loy.