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PRESS RELEASE FROM THE FLORIDA

POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION


FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE MEDIA CONTACT:
April 6, 2021 Michael Skelly 917-364-8142

IN A MAJOR VICTORY IN THE FIGHT TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF POLICE


OFFICERS, FLORIDA’S FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL REVERSES A
LOWER COURT’S DECISION AND RULES THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT
OFFICERS ARE PROTECTED UNDER MARSY’S LAW

TALLAHASSEE- In a landmark decision that will have significant implications for law enforcement officers
across the State of Florida, the First District Court of Appeal (DCA), reversed a Trial Court’s previous ruling
that asserted law enforcement officers did not meet the definition of a crime victim and thus could not be
afforded the same protections under Marsy’s law, as every other citizen in the State of Florida.

The DCA's decision stems from a previous case held before a Trial Court in Tallahassee, where in two separate
encounters, crime suspects threatened Tallahassee police officers with deadly force. Faced with the imminent
threat of harm, the officers responded in kind, resulting in fatalities. Following the encounters, the City of
Tallahassee revealed its intent to disclose the identities of the police officers to the public. The Florida PBA
opposed the disclosure of the officers’ identities and sought a declaration from the Trial Court that the officers
were entitled to the protections granted to crime victims under Article I, Section 16 of the Florida Constitution.
Additionally, the Florida PBA asked the court to prevent the City of Tallahassee from disclosing any personal
information that could be used to identify and locate the officers. The Trial Court determined that the
protections afforded crime victims under Florida's Constitution were unavailable to law enforcement officers,
even when a crime suspect threatened an officer with deadly force. The court also ruled that their names were
not entitled to confidential treatment.

In today’s decision reversing the lower court’s ruling, the DCA asserted that, “The express purpose of Article I,
Section 16 is to preserve and protect certain rights of crime victims. A crime victim is a person who suffers
direct or threatened physical, psychological or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted
commission of a crime or delinquent act or against whom the crime or delinquent act is committed. A police
officer meets the definition of a crime victim under Article I when a crime suspect threatens the officer with
deadly force, placing the officer in fear for his life.” Accordingly, the DCA reversed the Trial Court’s order
directing the City of Tallahassee to disclose public records that would reveal the identities of the two officers.
The DCA also reversed the Trial Court’s judgment declaring that the protections afforded crime victims under
Article I, Section 16 are not available to law enforcement officers.
Commenting on today’s landmark ruling, Florida PBA General Counsel Stephanie Dobson Webster said,
“Today’s ruling by the DCA is a major victory in our ongoing fight to protect the rights of Florida’s law
enforcement officers who are also crime victims. Our brave men and women who serve on the frontlines of
public safety and find themselves in deadly situations, shouldn’t have to check their rights at the door and have
their safety and security compromised as a result of situations they themselves did not cause. It is also a victory
for every crime victim because this shows it doesn’t matter what your profession is to be considered a victim of
a crime. This is precedent-setting law in Florida, which no other court has ruled on. Moving forward, the
Florida PBA will continue to protect our members' legal rights whenever they are challenged and we will
vigorously pursue their defense as far as we can go.”

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