The Florida Department of Law Enforcement briefed members of the House Judiciary Committee Monday on the state’s ongoing criminal justice data-sharing project, as members expressed concern over delays.
The briefing marks the first meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, led by Republican Rep. Erin Grall and and Vice Chair Cord Byrd.
Members explored the data-sharing project — coined the Criminal Justice Data Transparency Project — as well as the Uniform Arrest Affidavit and Florida Incident Based Reporting (FIBRS) technology.
The project, implemented in 2018 by House Speaker Chris Sprowls, aimed to increase the collection and transparency of criminal justice data in Florida.
It drew acclaim as a national model, with some even describing it as a medium to provide lawmakers and the public with a means to better assess criminal justice issues.
Yet despite bipartisan support for the update, FDLE in years since has failed to meet implementation deadlines.
In her opening remarks, Grall, a Republican, lamented the delay and drew a line in the sand.
“It is my expectation, and that of the Speaker’s, that this important project be completed no later than the end of Session,” Grall said. Session is scheduled to end April 30.
Grall and Sprowls aren’t alone in their frustration.
Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond said he has been frustrated for years.
“We’re three years late,” Diamond said. “We’re several million dollars in the hole. We don’t really have anything yet there to show for it.”
Nevertheless, Diamond — now a congressional candidate — said he’s confident about the effort moving forward.
The data, he added, is needed. He and other lawmakers lamented criminal justice reform bills are often thwarted by claims of a lack of data.
“Without this data, it’s hard to be able to tell my chairs why I think they should advance a bill,” Democratic Rep. Dianne Hart said.
The Criminal Justice Data Transparency project is intended to be a case specific depository and serve as a library for myriad crime data statewide.
Contributors to the depository include county clerks, state attorneys, public defenders, county detention facilities, the Florida Department of Corrections and others.
The Uniform Arrest Affidavit requires law enforcement agencies statewide to use a streamlined process as a means to harmonize reporting.
FIBRS is Florida’s medium for national reporting to the FBI.