Gov. DeSantis signs ‘Halo’ bill creating no-go zone around first responders

Anyone who enters the 25-foot zone after being warned could see 60 days of jail time.

Starting next year, first responders in Florida will have a new tool at their disposal to provide themselves space to do their jobs in public — and potentially obscure the sightlines of onlookers and devices.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (SB 184) enabling police, firefighters and paramedics to establish a 25-foot no-go zone around themselves. Anyone who enters the area to harass, impede or threaten them after receiving a warning will face up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.

It goes into effect Jan. 1.

“I am proud to support the men and women of law enforcement throughout the state,” DeSantis said Friday. “Today’s legislation will ensure law enforcement can do their jobs without the threat of harassment. While blue states vilify and defund the police, Florida will continue to be the friendliest state in the nation towards our law enforcement community.”

SB 184 is the pet project of Hialeah Republican Rep. Alex Rizo, who has sponsored versions of the measure with varying distances — up to 30 feet in some — for several Sessions.

Rizo dubbed his measure the “Halo bill.” By authorizing it, he said, “the Governor and Legislature are letting every law enforcement officer and first responder in the state know that we not only stand with them, but will continue to do whatever we must to protect and serve them, as they protect and serve us.”

The bill’s Senate sponsor since 2023 has been Hialeah Gardens Republican Sen. Bryan Ávila, who this year originally proposed a 14-foot distance, which he explained is the length of an average car.

Twenty-five feet is the long-accepted reactionary gap for police — the distance officers must keep between themselves and a potential aggressor to respond to a sudden threat if the suspect’s hands aren’t visible.

Ávila said it’s about keeping first responders safe in crowded, high-stress situations, such as during Spring Break in South Florida, where they and the people they’re trying to help are at greater risk of harm.

“In some of these cases, you don’t know … what people in the audience could potentially have on them. You don’t know what was the reason or the rationale for the brawl or conflict, and you certainly don’t know how many victims you have until you arrive on the scene,” he said. “You’re coming into a situation that is very tense, very up-tempo, and … if you don’t stabilize it, it could really boil over into something bigger.”

Critics of the measure, including a majority of Miami-Dade County Commissioners who voted against a 2021 resolution supporting it, view the restriction as a veiled attempt to stop citizens from filming cops who behave badly.

“It (could) create an additional impediment,” West Palm Beach Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell said.

Orlando Democratic Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis noted that many recent anti-brutality changes in law enforcement would not have happened if citizens were unable to closely record law enforcement.

“The only reason we know what happened to George Floyd is because of a girl who was filming his murder close by,” she said, adding that those supporting the change are “more concerned with the comfort of the police officer than it is with truth and justice.”

Rizo and Ávila maintained throughout the bill’s progress this year that nothing in its language precludes recording police. Ávila called doing so a “constitutionally permissible” action ahead of a final vote on the bill last month.

The bill passed 85-27 in the House and 39-1 in the Senate, with Democrats exclusively casting “no” votes.

But it garnered some support from the left side of the aisle, including Kissimmee Rep. Vic Torres, a retired New York City Transit detective, and Miami Sen. Jason Pizzo, a former prosecutor.

Pizzo suggested that 25 feet might not be enough in some cases and recommended that the bill allow on-site first responders to set the distance on a case-by-case basis. He noted that 25 feet would not have been enough after the June 2021 condo collapse in Surfside, nor would it have been sufficient after 9/11.

“That distance to get back is like a mile,” he said. “This is reasonable, (but) I think we’re going to have a lot of people saying, ‘This is 25 feet,’ (and refusing to move back more) when, for their own safety and their own good, 100 feet might have been more appropriate.”

That said, Pizzo continued, the distance argument is emblematic of a broader need for police to wear body cameras, which studies have “empirically shown is (often) exculpatory to many law enforcement officers.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.



    April 10, 2024 at 6:23 pm

    More Sage Nation-Wide “MODEL” Legislation by Ron The Ronald to keep our Sage First Responders safe and make sure they all go home to their Sage Families at the end of their shifts.
    This will go a long way to Keep Them Safe and punish any Dooks who dare to violate Florida Law.
    Thanks again to Ron and Casey DeSantis
    Earl Pitts “Ron’s VPOTUS Campaign Manager” American

    • Another Woke Loss For Ron

      April 11, 2024 at 10:54 am

      Florida cannot prohibit a 10th grade math teacher from asking her students to call her by her preferred pronouns, a federal judge has ruled.
      The decision from Mark Walker, the US district judge, is a blow to an anti-LGBTQ law championed by Ron DeSantis, the state’s governor, which prohibits discussion of sexuality in public schools. A 2023 expansion of the measure, widely known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, prohibits teachers and students from using pronouns that align with their gender identity.

      The Tuesday decision, a preliminary injunction, blocks Florida from enforcing the law against Katie Wood, a transgender 10th grade algebra teacher in Hillsborough county. Wood has long gone by “Ms Wood” in school, but the law has made her require her students to call her “Teacher Wood” – a title no one else at the school uses.

      “The state of Florida has a first amendment problem. Of late, it has happened so frequently, some might say you can set your clock by it,” Walker, an appointee of Barack Obama, wrote in his ruling. “The question before this court is whether the first amendment permits the state to dictate, without limitation, how public-school teachers refer to themselves when communicating to students. The answer is a thunderous ‘no.’”


        April 12, 2024 at 7:42 pm

        Good evening Another,
        Prior to posting another long drawn-out Dook 4 Brains Leftist non-senseical post of “Blathering Pscyo-Babble” (as in reference to your above “Abomination” of a post) I, Earl Pitts American, have some “Sage Advice” for you.
        Heres what you do Another -Stop And Think prior to hitting the “POST ICON” “WHAT WOULD EARL THINK” or to help you remember heres the way cool acronym – WWET – This simple “GRAMMERLY PROCEDURE” will prevent you from “LOOKING THE FOOL” in all future postings and by constantly studying my, Earl Pitts American’s, postings of Sage Wisdom, you should speed up your Life Goal of being more and morelike Earl with each passing day.
        You are welcome, Another, and after your Transition to SAGE PATRIOT is complete you will be treated to a night on the town with ME, Earl Pitts American, in one of Florida’s Finest Strip Clubs where I, Earl Pitts American, will “SET YOU UP” with one of my “Favorate Pole Dancers” THE BEAUTIFUL MISS ROLEX!!!!
        Now “That Right There” will motivate even the “Most Egregious Dook 4 Brains Leftist” to “Cast Aside” their Dook 4 Brains Political Views and “Transition” into a Sage Patriot just like Earl.
        Thanks again, Another, one day soon I will Re-Name you “ANOTHER EARL PITTS AMERICAN” and turn you loose on MISS ROLEX.
        Earl Pitts American

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 12, 2024 at 7:47 pm


  • Harris McWalter

    April 10, 2024 at 7:41 pm

    If I ever see a cop choking on donut hole, I’ll make sure to avoid giving him the Heimlich maneuver, and just safely watch him turn blue from 25 feet away.


      April 10, 2024 at 7:45 pm

      Good evening Mr. McWalter,
      Get back under your rock McWalter.
      Thank you McWalter,
      Earl Pitts American

      • Rick Whitaker

        April 10, 2024 at 10:00 pm

        EARL, that’s funny, i guy under a rock telling someone else to go back under a rock. you must want company.

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 11, 2024 at 10:00 am

    Ah there’s the gist. It’s extra revenue from spring breakers who have no clue about Rhonda’s new money grabbing 25 foot rule. Florida is a giant spring break mistake. Kids, go to Cancun.

  • Dancing Outlaw

    April 12, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    Ron DeSantis will be the first, primary, and most frequent recipient of warnings to get 25 feet away. So much for the ole photo ops with public servants.

    This is a decent start, but could this law be rewritten to require that Ron DeSantis has to remain at least 25 feet away from everyone?

Comments are closed.


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