ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bay Area leaders of a Florida based activism group just gave law enforcement officials in the state a letter with a list of demands that outline the changes that need to be made.
What You Need To Know
- Changes include demilitarization of police departments, sheriff's offices, racial bias training, publicly releasing use of force policies
- Letter heavily criticized Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
- Letter also called for civilian oversight boards for law enforcement
- More Pinellas County stories
Members from the group, Freedom for Florida Coalition, said the letter they authored addressed to Sheriff’s and Police Chief’s of Florida will help guide them when it comes to systematic changes.
“We’ve been going through this for so long and our list is so long right? So we are asking for everything and the kitchen sink to make this better,” said Organize Florida Regional Director, Robin Lockett.
“In the three page letter the group asked law enforcement agencies in Florida for a number of things like demilitarizing the sheriff’s office, revising, strengthening and publicly releasing use of force policies. They also asked for de-escalation, racial bias training and screening. A civilian over sight board, mandatory body cameras and taking some of the funding law enforcement agencies and put it into community-based programs are also on the list.
“It took us a long time to get here and if we do this right, we’re going to get what we deserve. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t deserve,” Lockett said.
We sent a copy their letter to eight different agencies in the Bay Area this week. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s office, Clearwater Police Department, Tampa Police Department, Sarasota Police Department, Pasco County Sheriff’s office, Polk County Sheriff’s office, and the St. Pete Police Department.
Many of the agencies said they were too busy with the protests to read the letter, some never responded.
That letter heavily criticized Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who serves as the president of the state’s sheriff’s association. We reached out to his office for comment and were told over the course of several days he didn’t have time to read the letter.
We did hear back from Pasco Sheriff’s office and Saint Pete police department. Each laid out where they stand right now on that list of demands. Pasco County said they had at least four out of the six demands listed in that letter. St. Pete PD said they had at least five out of the six demands listed.
Those two agencies along with Tampa Police department also shared with us their use of force policies.
Lockett says the plans in the letter they sent out will ultimately lead to changes seen and unseen.
“No matter what policy people put in place, you can’t change someone’s heart,” she said. “But with this policy it puts a parameter around that heart and it puts guidelines around that heart and it holds accountability around that heart so that they won’t do what they’ve been doing over the years.”
Read the full letter below: