Police Unions Dominate Florida Commission That Disciplines Cops


Florida lawmakers created the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission in 1977 to police the police. But in 1999 Gov. Jeb Bush and state lawmakers began making appointments to the commission to repay police unions for their endorsements, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports in its series on bad cops. Bush put Ernie George, then the president of the Police Benevolent Association, on the 19-member panel that decides officer discipline. George is still there today, as chairman, in the one spot state law reserves for a “Florida citizen.”

With George in place, police unions pushed for changes over the past decade that made it harder to discipline officers. New laws and rules put more union representatives on the disciplinary panel, gave union officials more authority over who can be on the panel, limited the amount of negative information available to the commission and even eliminated the ability to punish officers who lie while under investigation. In a message to his membership in 2006, George summed up the accomplishments: “We were able to lobby the Legislature and pass major pieces of legislation other unions only dream about.”

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