Governor Ron DeSantis Enacts Legislation Banning Harassment of Police Officers and First Responders

Governor Ron DeSantis Enacts Legislation Banning Harassment of Police Officers and First Responders

The sheriff of St. Johns County, Robert Hardwick, and his department recently had Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative staff over to sign Senate Bill 184 (SB 184) and House Bill 601 (HB 601) into law.

According to information provided by the legislature, SB 184 makes it illegal to bother police officers or first responders while they’re on duty and doing their jobs.

“This law applies to anyone who has been told verbally not to approach a police officer and then does so with the intent to get in the way of their work, threaten to hurt them physically, or bother them,” they said.

People who break the rule will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

House Bill 601 stops people who are against the police from investigating police officers without a court order.

HB 601 also makes it official that citizen oversight boards can be set up. The law says that these boards must be led by the county sheriff or the chief of police. They will have between three and seven members, chosen by the sheriff or chief of police, and at least one of them must be a former police officer.

This “ensures that allegations of misconduct will be investigated by those properly trained and equipped to handle such investigations, such as Internal Affairs Departments or the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission,” said a news release about the signing.

Also, the bill will raise the starting pay of county sheriffs by $5,000 for each group of people.

He said in a statement, “The signing of Senate Bill 184 just puts the icing on the cake of what ‘Back the Blue’ really means in the State of Florida.”

While reacting to a service call, Hardwick said, police “never know” what to expect. That’s why the law sets boundaries, or “protective” areas, so officers can do their jobs when they get there.

Hardwick thanked DeSantis and said that Florida was the friendliest state in the country for police.

“You know what? We’re lucky in St. Johns County to have a community that stands with us and supports the blue, just like you,” he said. “That being said, this only gives us the law and the freedom to enforce it if someone doesn’t want to listen or pay attention while we do our jobs.”

Mark Glass, who is the commissioner of Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement and was also there, said that the bill would protect police officers’ rights and keep them safe on the job.

During the signing event, DeSantis repeated Hardwick’s numbers that St. Johns County has grown by 42% in the last ten years.

DeSantis said, “That shows that people vote with their feet.” “They look to St. Johns County as high quality and a part of that is good law enforcement working hard to keep everyone safe.”

HB 601 will start to be used on July 1. SB 184 will start to work on January 1.

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