Bill providing ‘wellness’ for law enforcement clears hurdle in Senate

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and civil Justice. Photo Courtesy of

The Florida state Senate Appropriations Subcommittee met Wednesday morning to discuss Senate Bill 1970, Law Enforcement Reform. 

Senator Jason Pizzo, a Democrat from Miami-Dade County, started off the meeting by explaining the bill to the committee. 

“As it relates to police conduct and a number of terms that may seem fluffy but actually have real meaning … to advance best practices on a statewide level, that’s the bill,” Pizzo said. 

While Pizzo’s explanation of the bill was short and simple, the Senate’s website for the proposed legislation explains the bill as such; Requiring the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to adopt rules prohibiting law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or correctional probation officers from using specified techniques.” 

After Pizzo’s remarks, Senator Victor Torres Jr. had questions about the bill. 

“Is this to upgrade training of officers? Can you explain more on the bill?” Torres said. 

Pizzo replied, stating that the bill entails more physical training for officers and mental support if needed.

“They are trained on everything from vehicle pursuits, search and seizure, traffic stops and things of that nature,” Pizzo said. “From a checklist perspective it adds de-escalation techniques and procedural justice training. It will also add mental health and wellness resources in support available for law enforcement officers.”

A member of the audience, Kristine Caster, decided to share her appreciation of SB 1970 when she addressed  the committee. 

“I am in support of this bill,” Caster said. “I want to thank Senator Pizzo and Rodriguez for creating this bill and emphasizing the fact of mental health and wellness on this bill as well as the de-escalation portion of the bill.”

Senator Torres decided to share his testimony in support of the bill as well.

“Anytime you help law enforcement, especially today, this [holds up his phone] captures whatever it wants to capture,” Torres said. “People don’t realize how incidents escalate. Officers out there, training and retraining, and getting to de-escalate the situation sometimes it’s all about words and I applaud you for this bill.” 

Senate Bill 1970 was met with unanimous approval in a 7-0 vote by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.