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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Veto Letters on Bad Cops Bill Start Rolling In

The Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department sent a letter to the Governor requesting he veto the Bad Cops  Bill.  As published in the Miami Herald today:

Bill would impede investigations of police wrongdoing

I urge Gov. Crist to veto the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights legislation, SB 624, as it will severely impact law-enforcement agencies in conducting internal investigations. Although it addresses administrative investigations, many criminal investigations become administrative investigations for any number of reasons. These cases can erode the public trust.

Under the proposed changes, officers under investigation will have unprecedented rights not afforded anyone else in civil, criminal or administrative matters and have access to all investigative items contained in the investigative files.

The bill arose from a Tampa Police Department investigation involving officers accused of billing the agency for hours they didn’t work. The officers denied the allegations under oath until confronted with GPS reports from their vehicles. The officers said they would have admitted to their wrongdoing, instead of perjuring themselves, if they had known about the GPS devices in their vehicles.

Aren’t police officers supposed to tell the truth? This type of behavior will be protected by the bill, which will discredit law enforcement. This provision is ripe for abuse: If an officer feels his or her rights have been violated and if the investigator fails to cure the violation or continues the violation after being notified, the officer can request that the agency head be informed of the violation. If the allegations against the investigator are sustained, they will be forwarded to the Criminal Justice Standard and Training Commission for review as an act of official misconduct or misuse of position.

The bill’s language is vague and offers great potential for abuse by officers under investigation who could try to derail an investigation.

We would have to explain to the public that complaints against officers will not be investigated because the bill provides officers with more rights than any other government employee or citizen. This will erode relationships and trust built with the community.

This bill will impede the ability of police to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and allow officers to continue employment without repercussion. The current statute preserves the officers’ rights without limiting the agencies’ authority to conduct internal-affairs investigations. I encourage the governor to veto this bill for the men and women in law enforcement and the community we serve.

ROBERT PARKER, director, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, , , ,

Bills the Governor Should Veto

Newspapers have already been calling for the Governor to veto numerous bills passed by the Legislature.   Here are some excerpts:

Insurers – The governor that championed needed reforms of the state’s property insurance industry went missing this year, hiding from the horde of lawmakers — many from his own party — who eagerly wanted to do the underwriters’ bidding.

They did that and more, most appallingly by removing the authority of regulators to determine when rate hikes requested by large companies are excessive.

All that regulators would be able to do is determine whether those companies’ rates are too low. Right. Like that’ll be something they’ll have plenty of opportunities to evaluate.

Mr. Crist needs to reassert himself and the interests of homeowners by vetoing the insurance reforms rollback. Lawmakers did need to reduce some of the state’s risk, and they agreed to trim the size of Florida’s Catastrophe Fund by $2 billion a year. The fund provides the industry with cheap backup insurance it needs to pay claims after catastrophic storms.

But lawmakers also should have capped the price of backup insurance sold privately. Their failure to do that could result in insurers passing on the exorbitant cost of backup insurance to policyholders — the very thing that sent rates soaring two and three years ago.

Water managers – Senate Bill 2080 looks fairly placid, from a distance. It requires that regional water managers provide Florida-friendly landscaping ordinances for local governments to use as a model. Fine, as far as that goes.

But wade beyond the thickets and there’s a carnivore waiting. The bill would work to effectively devour the authority of water management district board members. They would no longer vote on requests to withdraw water from the aquifer, rivers, lakes and other sources.

Instead, the districts’ executive directors would make those decisions — and largely out of view of the public, which now is allowed to attend regularly scheduled board meetings.

If that isn’t enough to make Mr. Crist, Florida’s environmental governor, break out his veto pen, here’s the kicker: Board members get to weigh in only if the district’s executive director decides the permit is harmful and denies it.

In other words, developers who are denied withdrawals would get a last chance to plead their case to board members.

Hardly what the public needs.  Orlando Sentinel 
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , ,

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