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First Coast

Nassau County Lawmaker’s Policing Bill Passes State House and Senate

JSO patrol vehicle in a parking lot
News4Jax
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A police practices bill co-sponsored by Neptune Beach Republican State Rep. Cord Byrd has passed both houses of the Florida Legislature unanimously and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. 

The bipartisan bill would require local police departments to adopt use-of-force policies. It would require the state to establish standards for how police officers are trained, which is currently up to individual departments. 

It would also require police departments to implement policies for investigating excessive use of force by officers. 

The use of chokeholds, the controversial neck restraint that led to the death of Eric Garner in 2014, would also be banned.

“No one dislikes a bad cop more than a good cop,” said Byrd, a Republican. “The part where we’re going to verify employment history is critically important, parts where we standardize training throughout the state, so we’re setting a floor for certain aspects of training, standards which we will expect all our law enforcement officers to attain. And then I think the piece on data is also very important.” 

Byrd co-sponsored the bill with Tampa House Democrat Fentrice Driskell. 

“We know our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every single day, protecting people,” Driskell told WJCT News partner News4Jax. “But, we also know that communities of color don’t always feel policed as fairly, and they feel that lack of trust. So, what can we do to try to help bridge that gap?”

Byrd was also a co-sponsor of HB1, the anti-riot bill that became law last week. Byrd said he sees the two as complementary. “In House Bill 1, we’re saying we’re protecting people’s rights to peaceably assemble under the first amendment, but you’re not going to commit crimes under the guise of exercising your first amendment rights. And likewise, we’re holding our law enforcement officers to a high standard in Florida.” 

Byrd said he is confident that Gov. Ron DeSantis will sign the bill. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.