New Florida Panel To Study Law Enforcement Consolidation


After eliminating thousands of rank-and-file jobs from the Florida work force, Gov. Rick Scott and the legislature are turning their cost-cutting attention to a more politically sensitive area: law enforcement, says the Miami Herald. Scott has signed a bill creating a task force on law enforcement consolidation — an idea likely to send shivers up the spines of police officers in a time of double-digit unemployment. The legislation directs the task force to “evaluate any duplication of law enforcement functions,” including training, legal services, cars, airplanes, and the regional deployment of police officers.

Sen. Jack Latvala notes that 11 state agencies have police officers, which he said is bound to create duplication. In informal talks, senators have discussed whether sheriffs should be required to handle some duties now performed by the Florida Highway Patrol, which is understaffed. The patrol long has grappled with high turnover among troopers and is about to undergo a reorganization. Sheriffs successfully killed the idea in its infancy. Turf wars among police agencies are legendary, and reducing the level of police protection is fraught with political peril. For example, Latvala questioned why the state agriculture agency needs its own police force to “patrol our forests,” but the agency said those officers safeguard “world-class public lands.”

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