Florida police departments, such as Palm Beach Gardens’, that have their officers use body cameras now must establish policies and procedures for the proper use, maintenance and storage of the cameras and the data they record.
The new law went into effect Thursday with Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of HB 93, partially inspired by Corey Jones’ shooting death Oct. 18 by Nouman Raja, then a Palm Beach Gardens police officer who was in plain clothes and not wearing a body camera. The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department had no camera program at the time, but has since fired Raja; and the City Council voted in January to have its officers start wearing cameras.
The bill was one of 34 signed by Scott Thursday and among more than 100 he needs to take action on this week.
The law does not require law enforcement agencies to use body cameras. But if they do, the agencies must first have policies in place, including rules for storing the audio and visual data that comply with Florida public records laws.
“This will maintain the transparency we as a community crave and deserve,” one of the sponsors, state Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said in a release. “This bill is one that really hit home for me after the death of Corey Jones, and hopefully now that it has been signed by the governor, we can hear less about lives lost and more about the unity between law enforcement and the community.”
Corey Jones’ father, Clinton Jones Sr., later said the family was pleased and thanked Rep. Jones.
“Our family strongly supports the use of body cameras as a tool to re-establish the public trust in the police,” Clinton Jones said in a released statement. “As we await the result of the State Attorney’s investigation into the tragic death of our Corey, we believe that good policies in place, such as FL HB-93, will help promote police accountability and citizen safety.”
Jones’ father, sister and some other family members came to the Capitol in February on what would’ve been Jones’ 32nd birthday to lobby in support of the measure. They also delivered a letter to Scott’s office, asking for support on the legislation and investigations underway into the shooting.
After lawmakers passed the bill this month, Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Eric Jablin said the city’s police department already had adopted policies and procedures, and that the city planned to fully implement cameras in April after wrapping up a pilot program involving 10 officers.
“We’ll probably be the first in the state to be in full compliance with HB 93, which I’m proud of,” Jablin said at the time. Of Jones’ death, Jablin said, “I wish it never happened, but I believe some good will come from it.”
Jones was waiting for a tow truck at the off-ramp from Interstate 95 on PGA Boulevard in the early hours of Oct. 18 when Raja, working a plainclothes detail, arrived in an unmarked van. Jones, who was armed with a gun, was hit three times by Raja, who fired six shots.
There is no recording of what happened.
Florida Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera praised the measure when lawmakers passed it, saying: “There are so many questions pertaining to procedures, proper use, maintenance, data storage and training that need to be addressed before body camera programs are started. There must be guidelines so that everyone knows the rules and to avoid this issue becoming a knee-jerk political issue.”
Also signed Thursday was heavily lobbied HB 819 that could ultimately lead to changes in the way the Medicaid program provides dental services, which would likely lead to higher out-of-pocket expenses for adults.
The issue centers on the state’s Medicaid managed care system, which requires HMOs to cover dental services, including services for children and adults. But supporters of the bill want to remove the dental requirement from the Medicaid system and create separate prepaid plans for dental care for children.
The bill, sponsored by incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, will lead to the state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability conducting a study of dental services and submitting the report by Dec. 1. If lawmakers don’t take action during the 2017 legislative session to keep dental services in the Medicaid managed care program, the Agency for Health Care Administration will be directed to move forward with a prepaid program.
The bill does not require the prepaid program to provide the same level of adult dental services that are currently offered under Medicaid managed care or specify the level of adult dental services that should be required, according to a staff analysis.
The bill was supported by the Florida Dental Association but faced heavy opposition from the Florida Association of Health Plans, which represents the managed care industry. The Florida Association of Health Plans argued, in part, that the bill was tilted toward moving to prepaid dental plans. That is because the change will occur if lawmakers do not take action next year.
Scott issued a letter Thursday that appeared to indicate he shared some of the industry group’s concerns, though he signed the bill.
“While I am giving my approval to this bill today, if the results of the study do not demonstrate better quality dental care at reduced costs than the net benefits provided under statewide Medicaid managed care today, I expect the 2017 Legislature to amend the statute immediately to protect Medicaid recipients and the services they receive through statewide Medicaid managed care,” Scott wrote.
Staff writer Daphne Duret and the News Service of Florida contributed to this story.
SIGNED INTO LAW THURSDAY
HB 93 Law Enforcement Officer Body Cameras – This bill requires law enforcement agencies to establish policies and procedures regarding the use of body cameras.
HB 231, Motor Vehicle Manufacturer Licenses – This bill relates to contracts between motor vehicle manufacturers and dealers.
HB 293, Public Records – This bill revises a public records exemption regarding certain juvenile criminal history records.
HB 303, Unlicensed Activity Fees – This bill relates to unlicensed activity fees at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
HB 373, Mental Health Counseling Interns – This bill provides certain requirements for internship supervision at mental health institutions.
HB 387, Offenses Evidencing Prejudice – This bill revises an existing provision in Florida’s hate crime statutes for individuals with mental or physical disabilities.
HB 413, Title Insurance – This bill relates to title insurance companies.
HB 431, Fire Safety – This bill provides fire classifications for nonresidential farm buildings.
HB 549, Offenses Concerning Racketeering and Illegal Debts – This bill relates to the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.
HB 561, Organizational Structure of the Department of Environmental Protection – This bill revises the organizational structure of the Department of Environmental Protection.
HB 633, Public Food Service Establishments – This bill exempts religious and other non-profit organizations from regulations when hosting certain charity events.
HB 701, Art in the Capitol Competition – This bill creates the “Art in the Capitol Competition” for Florida students.
HB 749, Agriculture – This bill relates to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Greenbelt Law.
HB 773, Special Assessments on Agricultural Lands – This bill exempts agricultural lands from certain local assessments.
HB 783, Unclaimed Property – This bill revises several provisions in the Florida Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.
HB 793, Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program – This bill allows students to defer their acceptance of Florida Bright Futures Scholarships until completion of religious or service obligations.
HB 819, Medicaid dental services — Bill requiring state to review Medicaid dental services and possibly change them in 2017.
HB 965, Fire Safety – This bill updates fire safety standards for assisted living facilities.
HB 967, Family Law – This bill creates the collaborative law process.
HB 971, Community Development Districts – This bill increases the size of certain Community Development Districts.
HB 1025, Public Records – This bill relates to public records and the state infrastructure bank program.
HB 1051, Anchoring Limitation Areas – This bill prohibits overnight anchoring of vessels in certain zones.
HB 1063, Public Records and Meetings – This bill creates a public records and meeting exemption for the Nurse Licensure Compact.
HB 1125, Eligibility for Employment as Child Care Personnel – The bill aligns requirements for child care facilities and providers with federal regulations.
HB 1133, Applicability of Revenue Laws to Out-of-State Businesses During Disaster-Response Periods – This bill exempts out-of-state businesses from certain requirements during disaster response.
HB 1149, Alternative Sanctioning – This bill allows alternative punishments for technical violations of probation.
HB 1181, Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement – This bill relates to the Patent Troll Prevention Act.
HB 1219, Veterans’ Employment – This bill requires state agencies and authorizes local governments to implement a veterans’ employment recruitment plan.
HB 1245, Medicaid Provider Overpayments – This bill authorizes the Agency for Health Care Administration to certify certain payments.
HB 1333, Sexual Offenders – This bill increases registration requirements for sexual offenders and predators in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.
HB 1347, Illicit Drugs – This bill expands the prohibition of synthetic drugs.
HB 4009, Slungshot – This bill makes it lawful to make, sell, and carry a concealed slungshot.
HB 7013, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – This bill revises certain penalties for fish and wildlife violations.
HB 7025, At-Risk Vessels – This bill authorizes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to prohibit vessels that are at-risk of becoming derelict from occupying state waters.