86ºF

These Central Florida sheriff’s offices have ‘duty to intervene’ policies if deputies suspect excessive force

Policy requires law enforcement officers to step in when another is using excessive force

ORLANDO, Fla. – Protesters all over the U.S. and around the world are demanding police accountability after a video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he went unconscious as three other officers standing nearby failed to intervene.

Video of Floyd’s final moments went viral, sparking outrage at the sight of three nearby Minneapolis police officers watching Derek Chauvin hold his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. All four former officers are now facing charges in connection with Floyd’s death.

The calls for change reached Central Florida in the form of demonstrations for more than a week -- some attended by the thousands. Local groups have demanded policy reform, prompting conversations about law enforcement use of force protocols.

News 6 has reached out to sheriff’s offices in the Central Florida area asking if deputies are required to intervene when they suspect another law enforcement officer is using excessive force. Below are the agencies that have responded. This story will be updated.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office added a “duty to intervene” policy on June 2 that immediately went into effect.

The new policy states deputies should intervene “if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force” from another deputy, according to the agency’s updated use-of-force policy.

Deputies are also required to record all use-of-force incidents in which an on-duty supervisor will review and determine if it’s in line with the agency’s policies.

The use-of-force policy could undergo more changes. Sheriff John Mina is scheduled to review the agency’s policies Tuesday with its Citizens Advisory Committee.

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

Volusia County deputies are also required to step in if they see or anticipate a colleague use an “unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate” amount of force.

The agency’s policies, which notes it was last amended in 2019, adds in bold lettering that excessive force will not be tolerated.

VCSO said it is not immediately looking to review its policies and have not made any recent changes in light of Floyd’s death.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office

The agency’s use of force policy outlines that “every deputy must intervene if they observe another deputy using excessive force.”

Its policy goes further to explain how a deputy who is found in such a situation should report it through the agency’s proper chain of command. The protocol also asks civilian employees to immediately notify a supervisor, extending the duty to intervene beyond deputies.

FCSO guidance dated from 2018 explicitly states “failure to adhere to this policy will result in discipline.”

A spokesperson with the sheriff’s office said the agency does not anticipate any changes to its use of force policy in the near future.

[RELATED: Here’s how Central Florida law enforcement agencies use neck restraints | Orange County deputies now have ‘duty to intervene’]

Sumter County Sheriff’s Office

A spokesperson with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said the agency is reviewing its use-of-force policy and did not make the current policy immediately available.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office use-of-force guidelines does not explicitly state if deputies are required step in when witnessing excessive use of force from another law enforcement officer.

The document, which states it was last revised in 2018, does however outline that if a use-of-force case results in death or serious bodily injury all deputies involved will be removed from the line of duty. Those deputies will either be placed on paid leave or reassigned until an administrative review is done.

MCSO says it has not recently made changes to its policy and does not plan to at this time.

Seminole County Sheriff’s Office

A spokesperson with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said the agency has not made any recent changes to its use-of-force protocol. News 6 has requested the department’s policy.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

A spokesperson with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said the agency has not made any recent changes to its use-of-force protocol. News 6 has requested its policy.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office

A spokesperson with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the agency is reviewing its use of force policy and did not make it immediately available.


About the Author: