In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, as heroic civil demonstrations take place across the state of Florida and the country, Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) and Representative Dianne “Ms. Dee” Hart (D-Tampa) have begun to craft legislation addressing the explicit, systemic, inadequacies in the criminal justice system and policing for Black Americans.
“Quite frankly, this is a reality I’ll never be able to understand,” said Senator Cruz. “ I will never fully understand the plight that Black Americans have endured in our country throughout its history. What I am certain of, though, is that everyone has to contribute to the solution. I am dedicated to listening to the community and filing legislation that will create meaningful changes in the way law enforcement operates.”
“I am proud to stand on the frontline with Senator Cruz to achieve police reform and additional oversight on law enforcement,” stated Representative Hart. “The need for police accountability has never been more apparent than now. Two weeks ago, people in this country and around the world watched in horror as they saw George Floyd, a Black American man, die at the hands of the Minneapolis police. The horrific death of Mr. Floyd demonstrated what people in communities of color across the country have complained about for decades: the blatant use of excessive and deadly force by the police. We need one another, and the rest of the world needs an America that exemplifies freedom and the best of democratic values.”
Senator Cruz and Representative Hart have conducted preliminary meetings with various stakeholders, and look forward to continuing that process. The legislation is focused on three vital areas in three separate bills:
- law enforcement guidelines that will prohibit strangleholds, and chokeholds, and emphasize deescalation techniques;
- additional oversight through the creation of Citizen Review Boards (CRBs) throughout the state, and empowering these CRBs to investigate instances of excessive force; and
- robust K-12 education that details the historic and present-day racism that Black Americans are subjected to throughout our societal structures.
“We are past the point of acknowledging that there is an issue,” Senator Cruz continued, “the murder of George Floyd must serve as a catalyst that accelerates change across our country, lives depend on it.”