Rights groups and Hillsborough law enforcement agencies agree to reforms

NAACP press conference

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The Hillsborough Branch NAACP, local ACLU and several law enforcement agencies from across Hillsborough County are working together to repair trust between police and the community.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced five reforms the law enforcement groups agreed to.

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Chronister said implicit bias training would be enhanced for officers and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would investigate officer-involved shootings.

Chronister said the law enforcement agencies, NAACP and ACLU would meet monthly. The next meeting is July 22 and will be chaired by the head of the local NAACP and Chronister.

At the press conference, activist Connie Burton said people should have access to mental health resources and rehabilitation in their communities instead of only in jails.

Local NAACP president Yvette Lewis said the Citizen Review Board monitoring the Tampa Police Department needs to have more power.

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Lewis was asked about Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who was not at Wednesday’s press conference.

Embattled Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan promised to listen more to concerns from the community.

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Here is the list of agreements as provided by the civil rights organizations:

The policy proposals agreed on thus far by all Hillsborough County Law Enforcement agencies are as follows:

1. Duty to Intervene: All officers would have a duty to intervene and stop other officers when they witness the use of excessive force or a violation of other Standard Operating Procedures. All officers would also have a duty to report the use of excessive force or other violations of the Standard Operating Procedures. The required report will be filed without any retaliation.

2. FDLE Oversight: When a fatal shooting or an “in custody death†occurs immediately appoint an independent investigator – When a fatal shooting or an “in custody death†occurs in Hillsborough County, an independent investigator from the FDLE will be appointed to investigate the fatality. At the conclusion of the investigation and/or prosecution, the independent investigator shall provide a report to the public with the findings of fact and conclusions of law.

3. Uniform Policies and Procedures for all Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Departments: Implement Uniform Policies, Procedures, and Training Concerning Crowd Control at Protests: A. Present uniform protest and crowd control training so all law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County handle lawful protests and crowd control in a uniform manner. B. Require Officers to Engage in Uniform De-escalation Training: Train all Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies to utilize uniform de-escalation techniques and require continuing education periodically in the use of those techniques. C. Ban the Use of Chokeholds and Neck Restraints: Ban the use of Chokehold and Neck Restraints, unless someone’s life is in immediate peril. D. Require Exhaustion of all Non-Lethal Force Options. All officers will be regularly trained on to how to exhaust all non-lethal force options, when possible, to avoid the use of lethal force. E. Annual Implicit Bias Education, Training and Re-training. Annual education and re-education programs to make officers aware of the problems associated with implicit biases and training them in techniques to overcome such biases.

4. Expanded Use of Body Cameras and Squad Car Cameras: Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies will endeavor to expand the use of body cameras and squad car cameras and will seek funding to do so.

5. Continue and Expand Community Policing: Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Agencies will continue to use community policing techniques, in addition to regularly consulting with local leaders on innovative ways to build trust and improve the relationship with the community.

 

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