State Senator Lori Berman (D-Boca Raton) today sent the attached letter to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass. The letter seeks details on why Florida failed to timely apply for the Byrne SCIP grant, a fund created to assist states in the implementation of their extreme risk protection order laws, crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction programs.
A copy of Senator Berman’s letter to FDLE appears below.
March 16, 2023
Commissioner Mark Glass
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
2331 Phillips Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
Dear Commissioner Glass:
As you may be aware, the United States Department of Justice recently made formula funding available through the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program (Byrne SCIP) to assist in the implementation of state extreme risk protection orders, crisis intervention court proceedings, and related gun violence reduction programs. Authorized under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, Byrne SCIP has already awarded a total of $231,213,610 to 44 states, 4 US territories, and the District of Columbia. Florida’s own risk protection order law likely qualifies for this critical implementation funding. But our state was one of just six that failed to apply before the December deadline.
I write to inquire why Florida failed to timely apply for Byrne SCIP grant funding. Clearly, investing in antiviolence initiatives, like RPO programs, aligns with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s mission of promoting public safety, preventing crime, and protecting Florida citizens. Why did the Department decide against drawing on this valuable federal resource to further protect Floridians from violent crime?
I urge your department to work with the Department of Justice and consider submitting a late application. In my conversations with staff from both the White House and Department of Justice, I learned that states are still able to apply for Byrne SCIP grant funding. I’ve attached the official solicitation with instructions on how to apply for your reference.
Prior to the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, I was the lead sponsor of a bill to authorize risk protection orders (RPOs) in Florida, and was proud to see it engrossed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Data from the Office of State Courts Administrator show that since its passage, RPOs have been used over 9,000 times throughout Florida’s counties, preventing an untold amount of gun violence. Florida could use Byrne SCIP grant funding for a broad range of RPO implementation priorities, including the following non-exhaustive list of permissible uses:
- Training for judiciary and court staff, family members, and first responders;
- Outreach to community members, stakeholders, municipal leaders, law enforcement agencies, and those engaging with at-risk individuals;
- Development and distribution of RPO informational and educational materials;
- Publication of best practices regarding RPO programs;
- Funding for law enforcement to safely secure, store, track, and return relinquished guns; and
Engaging with research partners to measure the effectiveness of the state’s RPO law to prevent violence and suicide.
Our state’s red flag law has served as a model for other state crisis intervention programs, and we should continue to build on that success. You and I share a common goal of improving public safety, and I sincerely hope FDLE will revisit this issue and submit an application. There is no match requirement for Byrne SCIP, making this opportunity all the more appealing. If it is FDLE’s policy to forgo federal public safety grant opportunities, please share your reasoning. I am available to answer any questions you may have, and look forward to your response.