TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County plan make a number of bold policy changes in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Multiple law enforcement agencies in the area have begun working with the NAACP and ACLU to address policy and procedure concerns. They include the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office plus the police departments in Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and the University of South Florida.
On Wednesday, leaders released a new proposal for police reform that would ban the use of chokeholds and require officers to intervene and stop other officers when they witness the use of excessive force or a violation of Standard Operating Procedures.
The proposal would also require the exhaustion of all non-lethal force options and expand the use of body cameras and squad car cameras. And when someone is killed in custody, an independent investigator would be appointed to look into the fatality. That investigator would be from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The plan also includes the implementation of uniform policies, procedures and training concerning crowd control at protests, and annual implicit bias education, training and retraining.
“It’s a giant leap forward here in Tampa,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “But, the work doesn’t stop there. There’s another five. And then another five. And we’ll continue working on this list until every single individual feels safe living here in Hillsborough County.”
Connie Burton, a Tampa community leader, is hopeful of the changes, she said, but understands there is a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust.
“I could tell you a horrible stories. So much mistrust is prevalent inside our communities. It’s real,” Burton said.
8 On Your Side’s Ryan Hughes asked the sheriff if every deputy in his office, plus officers at the other agencies would be accepting of the changes.
“They live here. Their families are here. They can easily turn on a TV and look across the country and see what happens when law enforcement is not on board,” Chronister said.
Leaders said they will continue the use of community policing techniques and plan to regularly consult with local leaders to build trust with the community.
“Let me be clear: this meeting does not erase mistrust by law enforcement, mistreatment by law enforcement or wrongdoing by law enforcement. However this is a small step in the right direction,” Yvette Lewis, president of the local branch of the NAACP, said.
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