22 Sep 2022


The Police System in Florida: How It Works and What You Can Do to Improve It

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The police system of Florida was established in 1967 when the Florida Legislature created the Bureau of Law Enforcement by organizing the criminal justice organizations of other states within Florida. The organization brought together the Florida Sheriff Bureau and other law enforcement agencies within Florida, including the Florida State Narcotics Bureau and the Anti-Bookie Squad of the Office of the Attorney General. The Florida Bureau of Law Enforcement, at its inception, was headed by a commissioner. The Commissioner worked with the Governor of Florida, two sheriffs, and the Florida cabinet. A police chief was later instituted. The divisions of the Law Enforcement Bureau included the Police Administration, the Intelligence and Investigations Center, the Technical Services, the Administrative Intelligence and the Planning and Research agency. The Florida Police System is well established, properly resourced and has an elaborate data collection mechanism that has enhanced the provision of services by the police in Florida.


In 1969, the Florida Bureau of Law Enforcement was restructured during the shuffle of the government to form the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FDLE, at the time, was headed exclusively by the Cabinet and the Governor of Florida. The FDLE was later refurbished to have four divisions: The Administrative Intelligence, the Criminal Identification and Information department, the Training and Inspection Department and the Operations Department. The FDLE formed Regional Operation Centers (ROCs) which served as the new headquarters for the operations, replacing the centrality and one headquarters at the governor’s office ( FDLE Commonly Requested Contacts, 2010 ). The devolution of roles brought about a new aspect to the law enforcement agency: the human resource management. The combination of the human resource system employed business functions including the management of an information center, training of police, introduction of analytics and other research bodies to support the collection of data to support the police framework. All police members within a ROC were mandated to report to the regional director bodies. The fluidity of the operations at that point gave way for reinvention of the police body, and began focusing on research, database management, reporting and employing follow-up for specific cases.

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In 1990, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) accredited the FDLE for being an exceptional center as police system body. The communications management, the law enforcement body and the extensive training by the Florida system has always found accreditation with CALEA since that time. By the late 1990s, the body (FDLE), was properly organized, having regional program directors, special agents, headquarters leadership, a review system and a decision-making body that did not rely on the Governor’s actions but operated independently ( Government Program Summaries, 2018 ). The success of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement saw an introduction of the Department of Community Affairs from the Auditor General’s Office to the FDLE. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the FDLE assumed new responsibilities in dealing with security issues, an anti-terrorist unit formation and more cooperation with Department of Justice (DOJ) of the US ( FDLE Commonly Requested Contacts, 2010 ). The Regional Domestic Security Task Force, as it was called, is still part of the Florida Capitol Police System. The Florida police system thus operates on with cooperation and coordination of various special agencies. The success of the FDLE shows the maturity of the governance in Florida, and has been an important body in managing the state of security in Florida.

The Organizational System of the Florida Police System 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is headquartered at Tallahassee, with a workforce of about 2000 manpower. The police system has 7 ROCs, 15 field offices and 7 crime laboratories. The organization includes an establishment of public safety systems, an investigatory and forensic systems and the management body, composed of the office of the general counsel, the office of external affairs and the office of the inspector general among others ( Government Program Summaries, 2018 ). Also, the system has an elaborate criminal justice information system (CJIS) which collects, manages and disseminates information to all relevant agencies. The forensics department works together with the domestic’s security investigations to solve relevant cases.

The 15 ROCs are distributed within the Florida region to support the Florida Law enforcement systems. They include the Jacksonville Operations Centre, the Orlando Operations Center, the Tampa Bay operations Center and the Miami Operations Center, among others. The crime laboratories are located in Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Orlando, and Ft. Myers. The units of operations include the Field Operations Department, the Special investigations Department and the Special Assignments department. These bodies work together under the Florida Police Capitol and enhance the operations of police bodies within Florida ( Government Program Summaries, 2018 ).

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Florida Police System 


The major strength of the Florida Police system is the data collection system. The Florida Police System is well established, with sound investigation system, data collection systems and the statistics of arrest are significantly proportionate to the arrests being made. Although there are numerous types of data about crime being collected by the Florida system, a look at the data on sexual offences confirms that the Florida system of data collection is properly constituted and operational.

As stated, the Florida police system has an established information management system utilizing technology and other reporting systems. Statistical analyses provide figures that reveal how trends are prevalent within certain constraints. For example, according to the Florida Council against Sexual Violence, sexual violence is common in Florida and impact the victims and their family in different ways. The statistics of sexual assault are gathered by law enforcement agencies, which operate within the state. The analysis of the data reported in 2015 reveals that about 2-8% of reported cases of sexual assaults were false ( Sexual Assault Statistics of Florida, 2019). The report also confirms that the reporting trends are non-linear, and most crimes go unreported.

The statistical analysis center of Florida confirmed that sexual offenses were mostly committed against women, reporting cases of fondling and rape by men or other women. From over 10,000 cases reported, about half led to arrests that led to prosecution (4730 cases). The report confirmed that over 1.2 million women reported having been raped at some point in their lives. These figures represented 17% of women in Florida (about 1 in every six women) ( Sexual Assault Statistics of Florida, 2019). Also, about 42% of women reported other forms of sexual assault other than rape. The average age of women at their first rape assault was 18 years. About 80% of the rape cases befell women at the age of 25, while 42% of the women reported being raped at 18 years. Rape, as defined by the Florida Laws state that it is a successful sexual (vaginal or anal) penetration, or attempted penetration or penetration of the intoxicated without their consent while the sexual assault was defined as an unwanted ( Sexual Assault Statistics of Florida, 2019)

On the other hand, about 20% of men reported having been sexually assaulted by women or other men. About 28% of men confirmed to have been raped. As opposed to the women, the age of first complete rape for men was ten years. From this analysis, it was confirmed that men and boys in Florida were more likely to be victims of sexual abuse when they in their teens ( Florida's Domestic Violence Statistics, 2020 ). The sexual violence on men originated from both men and women, but ironically, men were more likely to sexually assault other men. Rape, as evaluated, was an act of violence, and in men, it was perpetrated to show power and domination as opposed to sexual desires. Most sexual assaults, as reported for both men and women, were perpetrated by people who were familiar with them. In comparison to national statistics, 16% of men in the U.S., according to the C.D.C., reported having fallen victim to sexual assaults ( Florida's Domestic Violence Statistics, 2020 ).

From the analysis of this example, it is clear that the Florida police system has an elaborate system for addressing victims of sexual assaults for both men and women. The police system has a research and analysis department that encourages the reporting of sexual assault victims. The Florida Council against Sexual Violence (F.C.A.S.V.) has a dedicated site for addressing sexual assault. According to the F.C.A.S.V. data, about half of all the reported cases of sexual assault on both genders resulted in an arrest. The F.C.A.S.V. site encourages reporting of sexual assault by informing the victims that rape and sexual assault is not their fault, and they should report absent shame. Also, they are encouraged that they are not alone in the ordeal, and thus, they should not give in to the stigma associated with rape and fail to report. The Bureau of Justice Statistics supports the efforts to encourage reporting of rape cases. Over 65% of sexual assaults went unreported, and about 56% of rape cases were also undocumented by the police. The reporting mechanism encourages both men and women.


The major weakness of the Florida Police System is that it lacks laws and strategic approaches to counter oblique areas within the judicial system that can be exploited. Florida, being a nation in the South, was greatly affected by the segregation assertion during the racially biased era of reconstruction in the US. It is not strange that these biases have found their way into the modern-day Florida and the judicial system has not found a way to properly manage (by outlawing) certain racial offences and hate crimes.

A case study of the hate crimes in Florida and the inability of the police to properly address them shows that the Florida Police System, though well established, lacks a mechanism for protecting everyone within Florida. Hate crimes have been particularly targeted to the LGBT community, a minority group that does not conform to the standard traditional definitions of sex and gender. Specific cases have happened in Jacksonville, Florida. The reporting frequencies of crimes in Florida are not exhaustive, and crimes such as transgender violence often occur without reporting. The violence against other genders, which has been described as hate crimes, is reported to be rare in Florida, not because they do not happen, but because their occurrence is seldom reported. According to Brook, transgender women have faced discrimination in Florida in different forms.

Examples of cases not reported included a transgender woman who was gunned in South Dade ( Florida Hate Crime, 2020 ). Another case was another transgender who was burned to death in Clewiston. In Jacksonville, a non-binary person was lynched and dragged naked by a car within the last quarter of 2019. According to a report by Allen in the Daily Beast, in 2019, Jacksonville, Florida, reported over 22 deaths of transgender people, the victims being mostly transgender black persons ( Park, and Mykhyalyshyn, 2016) .

According to Allen, the response of the police system, headed by the Sheriff of Jacksonville Mike Williams, was the formation of a Liaison Team that was criticized for downplaying the importance of the severity of the matter. The lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender (L.G.B.T.) community in Florida responded by seeking justice by first engaging the Sheriff department, but the responses were mild. The Sheriff of Jacksonville cited the occurrence as actions of a serial killer, stating that the cases were not reported, nor were they related.

The response of the police system of Jacksonville, as an example, show how biased the Florida police system is in handling gender-related cases of people within the L.G.B.T. community ( Park, and Mykhyalyshyn, 2016) . The lack of accountability of the police has discouraged the reporting of such cases. The national hate crime statistics for 2018 reported by the F.B.I. Showed that Florida was the state with the least reported cases of hate crimes. Only 141 cases were reported against a population of 21 million. In comparison, New Jersey, which has a population of 8 million, reported over 500 cases. From this analysis, it is clear that the Florida police system has relaxed its system in taking action against hate crimes. As a result, the rate of these crimes has increased, and the statistics confirm that many districts in Florida like Jacksonville are “transphobic and homophobic” ( Park, and Mykhyalyshyn, 2016 ).

From this case study, it is evident that the Florida police system and the general legal system does not comprehensively cover hate crimes. The hate crime law, as currently constructed, does not cover the most vulnerable within the Florida demography. These persons include the physically disabled, and those who do not conform to the binary gender system. Also, mixed-motive hate crimes are not covered, and thus, the minority groups, including the Chinese, the Hispanics, and the African Americans, are not protected. For instance, in the course of another crime, like a fender-bender instance with minor injuries, if one of the victims is insulted using racial slurs, the law does not provide a clause for 'in association with,' thus the insulting person cannot be held accountable. Also, hate crimes laws do not limit thought or speech and, thus, expose the vulnerable L.G.B.T. to verbal abuse in the American spirit of freedom of speech. Hate crimes only include aggravated assault and vandalism. The Florida Hate Crime Coalition has proposed SB 940 and HB 655, which will offer protection to the minority groups against hate crimes.


In summary, the Florida Police System is well established, properly resourced and has an elaborate data collection mechanism that has enhanced the provision of services by the police in Florida. The Florida police has a set of strengths and weaknesses that confirm that it still needs significant improvements and intervention from the judiciary in the formation of laws to protect every individual, including the minority groups in Florida.


"FDLE Commonly Requested Contacts." Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved on March 7, 2010. "Florida Department of Law Enforcement 2331 Phillips Road Tallahassee, FL 32308" 

"Government Program Summaries". Www.oppaga.state.fl.us. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 

Florida Hate Crime. (2020). Retrieved 7 March 2020, from https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2018/tables/table-13-state-cuts/florida.xls 

Florida's Domestic Violence Statistics. (2020). Retrieved 7 March 2020, from https://www.fcadv.org/resources/floridas-domestic-violence-statistics 

Park, H., & Mykhyalyshyn, I. (2016). L.G.B.T. People Are More Likely to Be Targets of Hate Crimes Than Any Other Minority Group. Retrieved 7 March 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/16/us/hate-crimes-against-lgbt.html 

Sexual Assault Statistics | Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. (2020). Retrieved 7 March 2020, from https://www.fcasv.org/information/sexual-assault-statistics 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). The Police System in Florida: How It Works and What You Can Do to Improve It.


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