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Officers found guilty of excessive force in Florida doesn't mean they lose certification

The state doesn't have a universal or streamlined standard for defining what exactly constitutes excessive force.

Jennifer Titus, Lauren Powell, Zack Newman

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Published: 5:02 PM EST November 22, 2021
Updated: 11:32 PM EST December 9, 2021

The death of George Floyd sparked a nationwide conversation about excessive force. What exactly is it? When can it be used?

With a guilty verdict returned against a Minneapolis police officer, some felt a sense of relief — they felt justice had been served — but had it?

A bad officer is off the streets, the streets are safer now, right? What if we told you in the state of Florida, just because an officer is found guilty of excessive force doesn’t mean they lose their certification?

During our six-month investigation, we uncovered hundreds of instances of just that — officers being found guilty of excessive force and losing their jobs but not their certification. We also found that excessive force data is a mess in the state. Complaints aren’t tracked on a state level and, locally, data is not always readily available.

Plus, there are agencies not sending sustained cases to the state although it's necessary, per the Florida Department of Law Enforcement manual. And on top of the data being a mess, we tracked down a national law that would require the attorney general to be collecting the information. 

It was passed 25 years ago and has not once been followed.

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