Legislation filed in the Florida House would mandate that police and corrections officers undergo psychological evaluation upon hiring and every four years subsequently.
HB 37 also would require training academies to seek and maintain accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Each screening would be done by a licensed “mental health professional.”
“It is my belief that by requiring additional certification and training for our law enforcement professionals, we only increase the credibility of the courageous work they do on behalf of the communities they serve,” bill sponsor Shevrin Jones said.
“The brave women and men who put on the uniform every day in order to protect and serve their fellow Floridians deserve nothing less than access to the best training and mental health care services that can be provided,” the West Park Democrat said.
“This legislation will ensure that we are affording them with all the tools they need to succeed.”
Jones said in a press release that the bill was a response to “ongoing discussions taking place between law enforcement officers and the communities they are sworn to protect.” He referred to town hall and panel discussions, plus news coverage of police-community relations.
The commission was formed in 1979 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; the National Sheriffs’ Association; and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Its accreditation process, according to its website, seeks to improve public confidence by boosting local agencies’ crime prevention and control capabilities; formalizing management procedures; establishing “fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;” improving service to the public; and fostering cooperation with other police agencies.
“Our focus is to create a system of accountability that allows law enforcement officers to being in a healthy mental state of mind at all times while serving and protecting its people,” said Jerrick Leonard, Jones’ aide, “and to also guarantee appropriate and constitutional handling of the people they serve during any interaction in uniform.”