As we approach the end of the year, FDLE is highlighting some of its members’ most significant 2020 accomplishments.
“This year has presented a number of unprecedented challenges, which is why the many accomplishments of our members in 2020 are all the more impressive,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “I am incredibly proud of the dedication and hard work of our members, as well as their flexibility and tenacity in rising to meet the unique needs and hurdles of this unparalleled time. I also appreciate the continued support of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet for their steadfast support of FDLE and our mission.”
Threat Assessment Strategy
Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, FDLE published Florida’s Strategy for Targeted Violence Prevention. The strategy is a partnership between FDLE, the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association to counter all forms of targeted violence in Florida, regardless of motive or target.
Florida Missing Children’s Day
Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis were part of Florida’s first virtual Missing Children’s Day ceremony to remember missing children and their families and educate citizens about child safety. The pre-recorded ceremony was shown on The Florida Channel and on the FDLE Facebook page.
Florida Law Enforcement Training
Basic Recruit Training
Using recommendations from the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission report “Strengthening the Bonds of Trust Between Law Enforcement Officers and the Public,” FDLE’s curriculum section developed additional training to give new officers a solid foundation for communicating with citizens and de-escalation strategies. They developed dozens of exercises to teach critical thinking and decision-making skills, including role-play scenarios. Procedural justice, fair and unbiased policing, self-de-escalation, officer wellness and suicide prevention are part of the improved curriculum that recruits began receiving in 2020. Several states requested information about Florida’s updated curriculum for possible use in their states.
Mandatory Continuing Education
FDLE’s Professionalism section developed two specialized courses on Human Trafficking for law enforcement officers. Courses can be taken online or in a classroom and teach officers how to identify human trafficking, recognize potential victims and best practices for investigating both sex and labor trafficking.
Over the past 18 months, FDLE’s Sworn Training Unit has focused on delivering high-liability training and sharpening officers’ tactics to improve an officer’s chance of survival during the most critical situations. The “Single Officer Response to Active Threat and Shooter” course has been delivered across the state resulting in over 300 Florida instructors and officers being trained.
Additionally, FDLE’s Sworn Training Unit is in the final stages of developing a new course geared specifically toward the sudden ambush of officers. This “Vehicle Ambush” course will provide officers with the knowledge, tactics and skills necessary to identify and respond to these violent attacks. The FDLE Sworn Training Unit provides these and other sworn training services to local law enforcement agencies across Florida free of charge.
One Percent Procedure
FDLE’s Seized Drug Unit analyzes evidence submitted by local law enforcement agencies for the presence of illegal substances, including cannabis. When the legislature created Florida’s Hemp Program, it meant crime labs could no longer distinguish between legal hemp and illegal marijuana – the difference being the amount of THC. Determining the exact amount of a substance requires expensive lab equipment and significant increases in lab processing times. To address this, FDLE scientists validated the DEA’s “one percent procedure.” With this technique, scientists are able to determine whether or not a substance contains more than one percent THC – more than 0.3 percent is illegal. Best of all, the one percent procedure is being used with existing personnel and fewer equipment costs.
Nation’s First Automated Rapid DNA Collection
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Leon County Sheriff’s Office installed the nation’s first fully automated Rapid DNA collection process at the Leon County Detention Facility. RapidDNA allows law enforcement agencies to quickly search against unsolved crimes across the nation while an arrestee is in custody during the booking process.
Criminal Justice Information Systems
FDLE members led a state workgroup to standardize data and definitions used across Florida’s criminal justice agencies including more than 700 elements and code values. The standardization will make it easier for citizens to understand and compare crime datafrom different jurisdictions and will be used when Florida moves to incident-based crime reporting next year. As part of the project, FDLE is now able to accept Criminal Justice Data Transparency information from all contributors.
Computerized Criminal History Webpage Upgrade
FDLE updated Florida’s Computerized Criminal History Internet webpage, making it mobile friendly and easier to use. Criminal history searches were also added to FDLE’s public mobile app, allowing quick and easy access to Florida criminal histories.
Use-of-Force Data Collection
In August, FDLE made it possible for local agencies to submit use-of-force data to be included in an FBI national use-of-force report being published in January. Florida’s data will followFBI qualifications capturing three types of use-of-force: death, injury and discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer.
Firearm Purchase Program
As of December 21, FDLE members working in the Firearm Purchase Program processed 1,498,596 background checks in 2020, an increase of more than 60 percent over 2019. FDLE’s Firearm PurchaseProgram supplements the regulation of the sale and delivery of firearms by licensed firearm dealers to persons who are not licensed firearm dealers. The program is operational 363 days a year, including weekends and state/federal holidays, from the hours of9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., ET. It is closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Firearm dealers have the option of calling in the background check via a toll-free phone number or submitting the check through the Firearm Eligibility System, a web-based application available via the Internet.
Law Enforcement Resources
FDLE’s Office of Mutual Aid prepared and distributed a law enforcement guide on COVID-19 for law enforcement partners and state agencies, and FDLE’s General Counsel prepared a law enforcement guide for protocols during a quarantine.
Emergency Operations Center
FDLE coordinated Florida’s law enforcement response at the State Emergency Operations Center. The agency worked with its partners to provide guidance on enforcing the closure of bars and seating capacity limits for restaurants and entertainment businesses. FDLE worked with the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association on traffic assistance at testing/collection sites statewide and to monitor law enforcement staffing impacts and staffing needs due to COVID-19. Members helped secure staffing at airport entry checkpoints and facilitated the transportation of test kits.
Federal Grant Assistance
FDLE managed Florida’s share of the Department of Justice Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grant. To date, the department has approved $19.5 million in sub awards to local units of government, state agencies and universities.
Twitter Hack Arrest
This summer, the Twitter accounts of several high-profile people across America were hacked. In July, FDLEAgents in Tampa arrested 17-year-old Graham Clark, who was charged as an adult with 30 felonies including organized fraud, communications fraud, fraudulent use of personal information and unauthorized access to a computer system.
Sexual Offender/Predator Registry Law Enforcement Application
FDLE developed a mobile application allowing law enforcement officers to quickly verify the addresses of registered sexual offenders and predators from anywhere using a cell phone. The registry system also offers the ability to verify registrant identity through electronic fingerprints, create customizable notification flyers, and store and access registrant related documentation.
Clickable links have been added to cell phone notifications sent when a Florida AMBER Alert is issued. Cell phone notifications (Wireless Emergency Alerts or WEA) are restricted to 90 characters, limiting the amount of information analysts can provide within these alerts issued during child abduction searches. Adding a clickable link means citizens can easily view a photo of the kidnapped child and all critical information. Twelve million Florida cell phones currently receive AMBER Alerts.
Florida’s “If You See Something, Say Something®” App
Under the direction of Florida’s Domestic Security Prevention and Awareness Group, FDLE IT developed an app allowing citizens to report suspicious activity and providing education about suspicious activity. Local law enforcement agencies can participate at no cost, incorporating their logo and information to make it appear that the app is their own. More than 50 agencies have signed up to participate.
FDLE increased its following on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter with more than 50,000 Facebook followers and 8,000 Twitter followers, helping to make citizens aware of unsolved cases, Florida AMBER and Missing Child Alerts and crimes that may be impacting the state.
2020 by the Numbers as of December 01, 2020
- Number of investigations opened: 2,668
- Number of officer-involved shooting, use of force investigations opened: 93
- Number of AMBER Alerts: 18
- Number of Missing Child Alerts: 29
- Number of Silver Alerts: 227
- Number of lab cases: 76,000+
- Number of hits to the DNA Database: 5,000+
- Number of court-ordered expunge requests processed: 16,000+
- Number of FCIC transactions processed: 1.1+ billion
- Number of arrest records maintained: 27+ million
- Capitol Police calls for service: 5,100+