The Florida Capitol Report

This week was the second of six interim committee weeks for the Florida Legislature. As previously stated, these meetings are designed to get a early start on the major issues of the upcoming session.

This week’s lobbying team was led by Senior Vice President Mick McHale, Correctional Probation Officers’ President Tammy Marcus, State Correctional Officers’ President Jim Baiardi, Gary Bradford, Ken Kopczynski along with me.

Here are the issues we are lobbying for this session:

Pay Raises for Florida PBA’s State Bargaining Units:
We are not publicly releasing our proposals yet, because we just started contract negotiations. All of our pay raise proposals will be announced in next few weeks. Just a reminder, Florida PBA is the exclusive collective bargaining representative the State Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Security Services (Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Institutional Security Specialist) and Lottery Law Enforcement Officers.

Florida Retirement System:
Request relief from the FRS COLA suspension and to roll back the years of service/age requirements for FRS members hired after July 1, 2011. We will also begin exploring ways to increase the employers’ contribution rate for members in the investment plan.

Our COLA legislation is being sponsored once again by Representative Chuck Clemons and Senator Joe Gruters.

Peer to Peer Legislation:
We are working with a large coalition of law enforcement, corrections and firefighting organizations to create Florida’s first ever “Peer to Peer” support legislation to assist first responders’ with mental health needs. This legislation will provide properly trained peer support in lieu of the Employee Assistance Programs.

SB 160 by Senator Keith Perry is on next week’s Children & Families Committee agenda.

Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights:
The PBA and FOP are teaming up to address the Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. A court decision split the definition of a complaint into “internal” and “external” which was never the intention of the statute. We are also extending the bill of rights to part-time officers. Our joint proposal will restore the original definition of complaint in the law.

There are certainly more issues to discuss, but these items listed above are part of our main agenda.

One issue not on our list, but important to us is preventing a home owners’ association from sanctioning you for parking your patrol car in your driveway. In fact, Senior Vice President Mick McHale spoke in favor of legislation at a press conference on Wednesday to allow your patrol vehicle to be parked in front of your home regardless of whether your home owner association’s covenant prevents this practice.

The third interim committee meeting week starts on Monday. We will continue to move our agenda items forward. Thank you for reading this very brief summary and please stay tuned for more details in future reports.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County Partners with Coconut Creek Police to Launch Bigs in Blue

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County, on an initiative from Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin, announced a partnership with the Coconut Creek Police Department to launch Bigs in Blue, a one-to-one mentoring program which pairs youth with police officers. Bigs in Blue helps children develop into confident adults while building stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve.

Fifteen Coconut Creek Police officers – including Chief of Police Albert Arenal – have signed up as Big Brother or Big Sister mentors for this innovative program. Chief Arenal, a Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Charlotte County during his formative years, understands firsthand the importance of empowering children through professionally supported, mentoring relationships.

“Growing up in a single parent home, my mother recognized that I needed a positive male role model in my life, and my Big Brother fit that part perfectly. He took me fishing, we went to the movies, he gave me the support that I needed during those critical adolescent years of my life,” Chief Arenal said.

Because of his Big Brother’s productive role in his life, Chief Arenal encouraged his officers to step up and be a part of this life-changing program.

“In addition to mentoring youth with an important role model, the Chief and his officers also understand that Bigs in Blue helps kids recognize that police officers are not to be feared,” said Ana M. Cedeño, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “They’re simply regular individuals whose job it is to keep our community safe. The end result is a stronger bond between police and the public, which ultimately will strengthen our communities.”

This takeaway underpins the Broward County launch of Bigs in Blue, which is a result of the leadership of Florida State Representative Michael Gottlieb, co-chair of the initiative with Keith Williams, an attorney with Saul Ewing & Arnstein and a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. Rep. Gottlieb connected Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County to local police leadership, including Chief Arenal and the Coconut Creek Police Department, generating a strong commitment to this important program.

“We are at this point today because of the leadership of Rep. Gottlieb,” added Cedeño. “We’re so grateful for his vision for Bigs in BlueSM and incredibly thankful to Chief Arenal and all of the officers at Coconut Creek Police Department for standing with us to empower youth and defend their potential.”

In addition to Chief Arenal, Coconut Creek police officers in the process of being paired with Big Brothers Big Sisters youth include:

  • Sergeant Dan Eberly III
  • Officer Rocco Favata
  • Sergeant Frank Fuentes
  • Officer Kennard Garvey
  • Sergeant Barb Hendrickx
  • Sergeant Jenna Kriplean
  • Public Information Officer Scotty Leamon
  • Officer Chris Lewis
  • Detective Cody McKinney
  • Sergeant Francis McManus
  • Officer Andrew Reynolds
  • Detective Larry Scates
  • Broward PBA President Rod Skirvin
  • Officer Cheri Stabile

Bigs in Blue, the first national initiative aimed at recruiting local law enforcement to serve as mentors to youth in their local community, was launched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2016. It has since spread to 100 local agencies across the country. In Florida, more than 3,000 kids currently are paired with law enforcement mentors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County is dedicated to creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Its larger vision is for all youth to achieve their full potential. For more information, visit www.bbbsbroward.org or call (954) 584-9990.