One of the most important services that the Broward County PBA performs is in the area of political involvement. This involvement encompasses both state and local levels of government. Each year in Tallahassee, the PBA lobbies to obtain legislation supporting officers’ rights, working conditions, pension benefits and other areas of concern that affect our members. In addition, the PBA lobbies local governmental officials, such as the County Commission, Mayors and City Commissions and the Sheriff, in an effort to secure pay increases, pension benefits and improved working conditions.
Our aggressive lobbying efforts would not be as successful without our involvement in political campaigns. Each election cycle we conduct extensive political screenings of candidates running for office at all levels of government. We endorse pro-law enforcement candidates and actively support their campaigns to ensure they are elected.
Political Action Committee
To that end, we have established a PAC account, to which a total of $1.00 of each member’s dues every month is deposited for the purpose of contributing to those political candidates and for maintaining a strong political voice with pro-law enforcement legislators at all levels of government.
Support for Law Enforcement-Related Bills and Legislation
The historical timeline of the Police Benevolent Association below reflects but a small number of the total legislative bills which the PBA as authored and/or assisted in passage or has opposed and subsequently defeated. The list does not include a great deal of law enforcement-related legislation that improved existing statutes, giving law enforcement officers better and more efficient tools with which to perform their duties.
The Florida PBA began in the 1960s when elected leaders of several Fraternal Order of Police lodges around Florida met with Dade County police officers and decided to form a statewide politically active labor organization for law enforcement personnel. Charlie Maddox is elected first president.
With over 1,000 members, the FPBA established a membership representation system, and members in every district, agency, municipality, and division could be represented. Police officers continued to gain through the FPBA and soon became recognized as professionals.
PBA proposed legislation passed giving law enforcement officers the right to engage in collective bargaining. The contract and safeguards you now have go back to this legislation. Salary incentive payments guaranteed on the local level also passed.
The Association approved its first chapter, which consisted of members from area, city, county, state or local agencies.
Florida Supreme Court affirms public employees right to collectively bargain for retirement. (City of Tallahassee v. PERC).
PBA proposed legislation passed raising retirement credit amount to that of FRS Special Risk for officers under a municipal police pension plan, enhanced minimum disability benefits, gave officers more say in the running of their pensions and permitted Boards of Trustees to hire their own legal counsel.
PBA successfully argues before the Florida Supreme Court that public employees’ right to collectively bargain supercedes Civil Service Rules and Regulations. (Hillsborough County Governmental Employees Association, Hillsborough County PBA, Inc., PERC v. Hillsborough County Aviation Authority and Hillsborough County Civil Service Board)
PBA proposed legislation increased the retirement accrual rate of special risk members of FRS from 2 percent to 3 percent a year.
Florida Supreme Court rules that Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officers have the right to warrantless felony arrests. (Florida PBA, Inc. v. Florida Department of Consumer Services).
PBA proposed legislation passed extending the Police Bill of Rights to all Florida Deputy Sheriffs.
PBA proposed legislation passed which provided that any political subdivision which employs a police officer or correctional officer killed in the line of duty as the result of an act of violence inflicted by another person shall pay health insurance for the officer’s spouse and children for a defined period.
Bob Sheehan, West Central Florida PBA, elected president.
PBA proposed legislation passed the Alu-O’Hara Public Safety Act. Allows full-time law enforcement and correctional officers who suffer a catastrophic injury in the line of duty to receive full payment for their health insurance if the officer became injured when responding to an emergency, fresh pursuit, or because of the unlawful act by another. Free coverage was also provided for the spouse and for dependent children up to the age of 25.
PBA proposed legislation passed creating the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) for Florida Retirement System employees.
Ernie George, Palm Beach County PBA, elected president.
PBA proposed legislation passed ensuring that state tax dollars sent to cities for police pensions will be used properly and certain minimum benefits were guaranteed. It was a major reform and enhancement of municipal police pension plans.
PBA proposed legislation passed creating the Heart and Lung Law. Providing that any condition or impairment of health caused by tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in total or partial disability shall be presumed to have been accidental and to have been suffered in the line of duty. In 2002, coverage was extended to all state and local law enforcement and correctional officers.
PBA proposed legislation created the Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Bill of Rights. Allowing officers to see all statements made by complainants and witnesses prior to any disciplinary proceeding.
PBA proposed legislation increased the Special Risk buy-back. Restoring benefits to a full 3 percent a year accrual for those active and retired officers who had received less than a three percent benefit for their prior service years.
PBA proposed legislation passed doubling existing death benefits (maximum $150,000) for state and local officers killed in the line of duty. Indexing the amount to the annual inflation rate, so the amount goes up every year. Allowing surviving children and spouses to attend college (through post graduate school) tuition-free.
Florida Supreme Court rules on PBA case, Williams v. Coastal Florida PBA, that Deputy Sheriffs’ have the right to collectively bargain.
PBA proposed legislation increased from zero to six the number of rank and file law enforcement officers on the 19 member Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC). CJSTC is the body that grants certification to officers and, likewise, can take away an officer’s certification to work as a law enforcement or correctional officer. Having the six commissioners of this rank has made for a much fairer and sympathetic hearing board for rank and file officers up on charges.
Note: A number of PBA presidents have served on the CJSTC including John Rivera, Ernie George (who also served as Chairman), Pat Hanrahan, Mick McHale and Nick Marolda.
PBA proposed legislation created the Officer Cheryl Seiden Act. This Dade County PBA inspired legislation precluded State Attorneys from having secret agreements with criminals which would prevent law enforcement officers from fighting the parole of such incarcerated criminals.
The Deputy James Weaver Act places a 180 day limit on the duration of an internal affairs investigation, increases the death benefit for traffic incidents to surviving family members, and allows the spouse and children to take advantage of the tuition benefits available from the state.
John Rivera, Dade County PBA, elected president.
PBA proposed legislation increased the amount of reimbursement the state will pay for state employee travel expenses.
Law Enforcement & Correctional Officers Bill of Rights helped strengthen the Bill of Rights. When possible, the subject of an internal affairs investigation be interviewed last in order for the subject to see all statements used in the investigation, imposed that certain political subdivisions must forward an administrative complaint against an officer to the officer’s employing agency within five business days, and expanded the tolling periods.
Another Bill of Rights bill aptly labeled the Tell the Truth Bill requires that the investigator, prior to completing a summary report of an internal affairs investigation, must sign a sworn statement declaring, under penalty of perjury, that all statements contained in the summary are true and that the investigator did not violate any part of the LEO Bill of Rights.
Fallen Officers Ceremony held at the Old Capitol establishing the Florida PBA’s Fallen Officers Memorial.
Municipal Police and Firefighter Pensions bill implemented a number of changes to the statutes governing municipal pensions by expanding the definition of creditable service, increasing the amount to be used for foreign investment, and revised fund distribution procedures with respect to plan terminations.
Law Enforcement & Correctional Officers Bill of Rights legislation updated the types of witness statements the subject officer can review to include technology like audio recordings, video recordings, and GPS locator information related to the incident under investigation.
Florida Retirement System bill dubbed the Double Dippers’ Bill, prohibits a FRS retiree from reemployment with an FRS employer for a period of six months. This ended the upper echelon’s practice of 30 day vacation retirements.
The legislature provided for a Compliance Review Panel process which a subject officer may request as a means to address an intentional violation of his or her rights by an internal affairs investigator.
PBA lawsuit successfully stopped the unlawful prison privatization of the Southern Region of the Department of Corrections. The lawsuit ended legislative practice of changing general law in budget provision.
The Fallen Heroes Act implemented legislation for the constitutional amendment (HJR93) which provides a full ad valorem property tax homestead exemption to the surviving spouses of first responders and military members who are killed-in-line-of-duty.
Possession of Firearms and Destructive Devices During the Commission of a Felony legislation made it a mandatory 10 year sentence if a previously convicted felon is in possession of a firearm or a destructive device during the commission of a felony.
The PBA secured pay raises for its Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol and FDLE Special Agents units. Officers with less than five years of service received a 3% pay increase while officers with over five years of service received a 5% pay raise. These raises were on top of across the board raises for all state workers.
Special Compensatory Leave: PBA unit employees have 60 calendar days to use earned special compensatory leave and employees employed after July 1, 2013 are permitted to accumulate a maximum of 240 hours of special compensatory leave credit.
Five percent across the board pay raises for PBA’s Law Enforcement Officers, Florida Highway Patrol, and FDLE Special Agents.
PBA legislation passed to give cities and unions much needed flexibility in dealing with premium tax revenues for enhanced pension benefits for police and firefighters.
We were pro-active in supporting legislation that created public records exemptions for body worn cameras: When taken in the interior of a private residence; or within the interior of a facility offering health care, mental health care, or social services; or, is taken where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The Scott Pine Act, SB 7012, primarily makes two changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). First, the bill increases the monthly survivor benefits available to the spouses and children of FRS pension plan members in the Special Risk Class when killed in the line of duty from 50 percent of the member’s monthly salary at the time of death to 100 percent of the member’s monthly salary at the time of death. Second, the bill permits the surviving spouse or children of an investment plan member in the Special Risk Class when killed in the line of duty to opt into the FRS investment plan survivor benefits program in lieu of receiving normal retirement benefits under the FRS investment plan.
Passage of Senate Bill 7022 allows survivors of a Special Risk member killed in the line of duty on or before July 20, 2002 to receive 100% of member’s salary at time of death. This benefit was added during last year’s session but the retroactivity only went back to September of 2013. The bill also allows FRS employees who are enrolled in the Investment Plan and who have left FRS employment and took a cash payment from the Investment Plan to be able to reenroll in the Investment Plan if they are reemployed by an FRS employer.
John Kazanjian, Palm Beach County PBA, elected president.
Support for Legislation (Senate Bill 376 and House Bill 227) enhancing coverage for first responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This Legislation allows an officer experiencing PTSD without a physical injury to apply for coverage.
The Florida PBA pushed through a major change in DNA use for an arrest (HB 1021/SB 920). The old law required a search warrant to collect a confirmatory buccal swab of a person who matches both a crime scene sample and an offender profile in CODIS. The Florida PBA successfully lobbied the Legislature to allow a judge the option to issue a warrant for arrest, or a search warrant for a comparative DNA sample.
The Legislature agreed to provide a $2,500 base rate of pay increase effective for Correctional Probation Officers and Institutional Security Services Officers. They also gave a three percent pay raise to Florida Highway Patrol Troopers.
After more than three years of effort, the Florida Legislature reached an agreement on how to enforce a “texting while driving” ban. The bill (HB 107/SB 76) upgrades the current law governing “texting while driving” moving the traffic offense from a secondary to a primary offense.
*Early history compiled by David Springer, legislative history courtesy of former Florida PBA Executive Director David Murrell.