Posts Tagged ‘Bob Gualtieri’

Law enforcement officials say that Anitere Flores bill to mandate civil citations for juveniles still ‘a non-starter’ for them

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

There are a number of bills floating in the Florida Legislature this year that deal with criminal justice reform, but one that has law enforcement completely flummoxed is a bill that would remove their discretion to charge a minor regarding a variety of first-time offenses.
Miami Republican Senator Anitere Flores bill (SB 196) requires a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or require the juvenile’s participation in a diversion program when that juvenile admits to committing certain first-time misdemeanor offenses.
Officials with the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association are strongly opposed to bill, however, because it mandates that officers will no longer have the discretion to choose between offering a juvenile a civil citation for the offense, or making an arrest.
Among the eleven listed first-time misdemeanors that law enforcement would have to give a civil citation to a juvenile offense include battery, disorderly conduct, affrays and riots, theft and resisting an officer without violence.
At the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice last week, Flores said that a misdemeanor battery charge currently can result simply by individuals accidentally touching each other.
That’s not what officers charge juveniles with out on the streets, insists Butch Arenel, the Coconut Creek Chief of Police and president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
“We’re talking about a road rage incident where a juvenile gets out of a car, approaches another driver and punches him in the face,” says Arenal. “That is a misdemeanor battery, and to think we’re going to have an incident like that where’s it’s a violent crime against a victim, and we’re going to simply issue a noncriminal ticket, and let them walk away, sends a wrong message to our youth.”
Resisting an officer without violence is also problematic, Arenal says. He cites as an example a law enforcement officer encountering a juvenile after he or she

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House bill could transfer millions from FHP to county sheriffs

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

The Florida Highway Patrol came out against a proposed committee bill Wednesday that would hand over agency funding and jurisdiction in two counties.
CRJ 17-01 from the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee could give the Pinellas County and Polk County sheriff’s offices a combined $6 million to handle crashes on state roads within county borders.
FHP Lt. Col. Mike Thomas said the move “would be a stark change to our business model” and that FHP hasn’t “had the chance to really evaluate any of the fiscal impacts as well as the impacts on the public.”
FHP has jurisdiction to investigate crashes on state roads in many Florida counties, though sheriffs say they end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting because FHP doesn’t have the boots on the ground to handle the case load.
“We’re already doing it,” Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in an interview with the Times/Herald. “I believe we can do it faster, better, cheaper.” He added: “The citizen doesn’t understand why the guy in the green uniform goes by five times while they’re sitting there waiting for the guy in the brown uniform.”
Under the bill, FHP would be required to enter into a contract with the Pinellas and Polk sheriff’s offices if  requested, while the sheriff’s offices would be required to employ displaced FHP troopers unless they decide to transfer locations or leave to pursue another job.
The bill also requires payments to the sheriff’s offices to be less than the cost of having FHP do the work. The cap for Pinellas County is $2.8 million a year, while the cap in Polk is set at $3.2 million.

 
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With sanctuary city comment, Rick Kriseman defiant, but misguided

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Whether you agree with the rules or you don’t, it’s never wise for a person in authority to say they are not going to follow the law. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman essentially did that when he stated the following in a blog post:
“While our county sheriff’s office is ultimately responsible for notifying the federal government about individuals who are here illegally, I have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws,” he wrote.
“We will not expend resources to help enforce such laws, nor will our police officers stop, question or arrest an individual solely on the basis that they may have unlawfully entered the United States. Should our solidarity with ‘Sanctuary Cities’ put in peril the millions of dollars we receive each year from the federal government or via pass-through grants, we will then challenge that decision in court. Win or lose, we will have upheld our values.”
Kriseman was forced to retreat Sunday after Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said his officers would enforce the law. That’s when Kriseman said in an interview that St. Pete isn’t really a so-called Sanctuary City — it just agrees with the concept.
That’s called trying to have it both ways. It usually doesn’t work.
That said, I agree completely with Kriseman that President Trump’s demonization of undocumented immigrants goes against everything America is supposed to stand for. So much about the president’s immigration policy is morally and ethically repugnant, designed to stoke irrational fear among the citizenry.
I just wish Kriseman had taken the approach of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. He visited the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay mosque Friday to support those jittery about the travel ban Trump wants to impose on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
“This city has your back,” Buckhorn told them. “I don’t care what this President did

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Rick Kriseman declares St. Petersburg a ‘sanctuary from harmful immigration laws’

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Although St. Petersburg isn’t officially classified as a sanctuary city, Mayor Rick Kriseman all but declared that’s exactly what his town is on Saturday. And if the Trump administration wants to deny the city federal funds because of that stance, the mayor’s response is essentially, ‘We’ll see you in court.’
“While our county sheriff’s office is ultimately responsible for notifying the federal government about individuals who are here illegally, I have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws,” Kriseman wrote on Medium on Saturday.
“We will not expend resources to help enforce such laws, nor will our police officers stop, question or arrest an individual solely on the basis that they may have unlawfully entered the United States,” the mayor added. “Should our solidarity with ‘Sanctuary Cities’ put in peril the millions of dollars we receive each year from the federal government or via pass-through grants, we will then challenge that decision in court. Win or lose, we will have upheld our values.”
In general, sanctuary cities are defined as localities that help shield undocumented residents from deportation by refusing to fully cooperate with detention requests from federal immigration authorities. The right-leaning Center for Immigration Studies listed Pinellas (as well as Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando) as sanctuary counties in a 2015 report, but that classification has been strongly disputed by Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
“When they ask us to do things within the law, we operate with them and their programs to help them take those that are illegal who have committed crimes . . . and get them out of here,”” Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times’ Laura Morel last week.
Although sanctuary cities and counties have existed in some form since the 1980’s, they became a much more potent political flash point in the summer of 2015, after 32-year-old Kate Steinle was fatally shot while walking on San Francisco’s Embarcadero by a

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House Health Quality panel hears from former Colorado pot czar

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

The former Colorado marijuana czar encouraged Florida lawmakers to invest in public education as they begin discussions about implementing Amendment 2.
Andrew Freedman, the former director of marijuana coordination in Colorado, told the House Quality Subcommittee that the state should consider investing in public education, even before tax dollars derived from the medical marijuana industry starts rolling in. Freedman said his state waited until they received tax dollars, and officials were “surprised by what people didn’t know.”
The state spends between $8 million and $9 million a year on public education, which includes public education campaigns focused on driving while high. The state puts $12 million aside for curriculum in schools, and that money is used to help schools screen for high-risk students.
Public education, said Freedman, is “incredibly essential to the success of the program.”
Freedman’s testimony came during a two-hour panel discussion on medical marijuana. The discussion was the second in a series of meetings scheduled as the House begins the process of crafting legislation to implement Amendment 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment.
Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues is expected to carry the bill in the House. Sen. Rob Bradley has already filed a bill the Senate’s version of the proposal.
Among other things, the Senate bill would expand the number of medical marijuana treatment centers, similar to what is currently called a dispensing organization, allowed to operate in the state.
Under Bradley’s proposal, the Department of Health is required register five more medical marijuana treatment centers within six months of 250,000 qualified patients registering with the compassionate use registry.
The bill then allows for more five more treatment centers to receive licenses after the 350,000 qualified patients, 400,000 qualified patients, 500,000 qualified patients, and after each additional 100,000 qualified patients register with the state’s compassionate use registry.
Existing law does allow for some growth, authorizing the

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Bill to expand juvenile civil citations raises questions on officer discretion

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

A bill to set up a civil citation program for juveniles statewide advanced Monday through a Florida Senate committee.
However, questions about removing officer discretion may need to be addressed before the proposal gets widespread support from lawmakers later this Session.
Miami Republican Senator Anitere Flores’ bill (SB 196) would mandate law enforcement officers to offer a civil citation for youths admitting to one of 11 separate misdemeanors: possession of alcohol beverages; battery; criminal mischief; trespassing; theft; retail and farm theft; riots; disorderly conduct; possession of cannabis or controlled substances; possession, manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement or retail sale of drug paraphernalia and resisting an officer without violence.
Flores introduce the bill to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice Monday.
“The reason why I find this bill to be very important is that it brings uniformity to the Civil Citation Program,” Flores said, “so that ability to get a second chance doesn’t depend on where you live or what the color of your skin is, and that it just be something that in the state of Florida we prioritize for all members of our state.”
Although civil citations are already an option for all law enforcement agencies to write up, there is a huge discrepancy in the percentages of actual use among various police and sheriff departments.
For example, in the most recent fiscal year, Pinellas County used civil citations 94 percent of the time they were available. However, across the bay, Sheriff David Gee’s agency in Hillsborough used them only 34 percent of the time.
Currently, Florida law states that law enforcement officers may issue a civil citation. Flores bill would make civil citations a requirement for law enforcement in particular cases.
Although each person in the seven-member committee indicated general support for the bill, some resistance came from St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, who said that while 94 percent of Pinellas County Sheriff Deputies did write up civil citations, 6

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