Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Easy Fix for Police Panel

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Easy Fix for Police Panel

Article excerpt

Membership violation only a small part of state commission's problems

The easiest problem regarding Florida's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission has been fixed with a change of membership. The most difficult challenges -- promoting fairness for law enforcement officers facing discipline, and ensuring accountability to the public -- remain.

Gov. Rick Scott recently announced that he dismissed two members of the commission and accepted the resignation of a third. All three are employed by the same agencies as three remaining members -- a clear violation of a Florida law that states "there may be only one appointment" to the commission "from any employing agency."

Due to appointments made by former Gov. Charlie Crist, the commission had two members each from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office and the Tallahassee Police Department.

Scott is now responsible for the commission, which has among its legislated duties to "review and administer appropriate administrative sanctions in instances when an officer, a training school instructor, or a training school is found in violation of Florida Statutes and Commission standards."

A slight imbalance

The governor addressed the membership violation by dismissing rank-and-file officers from Jacksonville and Palm Beach. He also accepted the Tallahassee police chief's resignation. The sheriffs of Jacksonville and Palm Beach remain on the commission; a Tallahassee officer stays as well.

Ernest George, chairman of the commission and a representative of the Police Benevolent Association, chided Scott for dismissing two officers while only one administrator stepped down.

But that slight imbalance can be remedied. The law requires that the commission have five law enforcement officers with the rank of sergeant or below. So, two of Scott's replacements must be from the rank-and-file of law enforcement. …

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