Legislative Activity For The Week Of January 9-13

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.

BCPBA Supports Broward County’s Penny Surtax Referendum

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association has announced it is supporting the Broward County penny surtax referendum and is recommending to all of its members and their families to vote “Yes” on the two questions in the general election on November 8.

“This surtax will hopefully give some relief to municipal budgets in funding law enforcement initiatives to make Broward County safer,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said.

The proceeds of the first half-cent surtax would go to Broward County and may be used only to fund county-wide transportation improvements to reduce traffic congestion, develop rail and enhanced bus systems, improve roads and signalization, and develop safe sidewalks and bicycle pathways, among others.

The proceeds of the second half-cent surtax would be used by Broward’s municipalities and Broward County and may be used only to fund infrastructure improvements, to construct and improve public buildings, facilities and roads, transportation projects, pedestrian safety projects, purchase of equipment and public safety vehicles, and recreation/conservation land acquisition, among others.

For either of the half-cent surtaxes to go into effect, the voters of Broward County would need to approve both half-cent surtaxes.

Penny Surtax Facts & Information

BCPBA Maintains Hallandale’s Use Of Force Special Order Is Unlawful

Recently, the Hallandale Beach Police Department put in place Special Order 16-003 Use of Force policy that prohibits its officers from protecting themselves against moving vehicles. The Broward County PBA maintains that not only does SO 16-003 violate Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute, but it unnecessarily places our members in harm’s way. A review of the plain meaning of Stand Your Ground would unescapably lead a disinterested party to conclude that Stand Your Ground carves out no “vehicle” exception, which is exactly what SO 16-003 unlawfully does.

“It seems that the Hallandale Beach administration continues to put political correctness before the safety of the brave men and women of the Hallandale Beach Police Department,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said.

The Stand Your Ground statute, as codified in Sections 776.012, and 776.013, Florida Statutes, provides that a person is justified in the use of deadly force and has no duty to retreat if either: (1) the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself, or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or (2) the person acts under and according to the circumstances set forth in Section 776.013 (pertaining to the use of force in the context of a home or vehicle invasion).

As set forth, Stand Your Ground does not mandate a person “not [to] discharge a firearm at a vehicle when the vehicle is the only instrument being used as a weapon/potential weapon in a deadly force encounter.” If the Legislature had wished to address the factual scenario envisioned in SO 16-003, it would have written an exception to Stand Your Ground. In its current state, it does not. Thus, the City’s mandate is unlawful. As such, the PBA will continue to advocate for our members’ safety and advise them accordingly.

Sunrise Lieutenants Ratify New CBA

The Sunrise Police Lieutenants Bargaining Unit voted today to ratify their 2015-2018 collective bargaining agreement with the city.

Highlights of the new deal include a 2 1/2 percent raise, effective from October 1, 2015, and will increase another 1 1/2 percent on January 1, 2018. Employees may also receive additional pay step increases for continuous full-time service with the city.

“It is great to work with a municipality that values the men and women in blue who serve,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said.

Statement From BCPBA President Jeff Marano On Judge Usan’s Decision

“We are very pleased at the decision handed down by Judge Usan this morning. All we asked was that he follow the rule of law, and he did. We want to thank PBA attorneys Eric Schwartzreich and Anthony Bruno, and their team of investigators, for the aggressive, vigorous defense of Deputy Peraza. We also want to thank our membership for their emotional and monetary support of Deputy Peraza and his family during this very difficult time. We have said from the outset this was a justifiable shooting and the Judge’s ruling confirms that fact.”