This week PBA leaders met with Senate President Joe Negron and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Chief of Staff Mat Bahl to discuss our legislative priorities for the 2017 Session. Our primary discussions centered on pay raises for state officers and restoring the FRS COLA.

Both leaders indicated they will give strong consideration to funding for employees’ pay raises and authorizing FRS studies in the upcoming fiscal year. At this early point in the legislative budget process, that’s about all we can ask for.

We will follow up with the leaders again in late February.

Review of Body Camera Footage
HB 305 by Representative Shawn Harrison has been referenced to House Criminal Justice and House Judiciary.

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.

Senator Greg Steube has the companion bill in Senate bill drafting.

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 (HB 247).

Please join me in thanking the following PBA leaders for joining us in Tallahassee this week: John Rivera, Ernie George, John Kazanjian, and Mick McHale.