Professional Compliance (Disciplinary) Process

Why a Professional Compliance Process?


The State of Florida, through the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (the Commission), oversees the certification, employment, training, and conduct of its law enforcement, corrections and correctional probation officers. The vast majority of these officers are professionals who take pride in ensuring the safety and welfare of the citizens of this state. Officers are entrusted with certain powers and responsibilities which enable them to fulfill their important role in society.

Unfortunately, a small number of officers misuse this power, and/or abuse the public’s trust. Through the professional compliance, or disciplinary, process, the Commission works to achieve increased professionalism by disciplining individual officers who tarnish the criminal justice profession through their misconduct.

The Commission recognizes that officer misconduct is a serious threat to the safety of Florida’s citizens. The Commission’s efforts are focused to ensure that the citizens of the State of Florida are served by the most qualified, well trained, and ethical officers in the Nation.

Standards for Certification

The State of Florida, through the Florida Legislature (Section 943.13, Florida Statutes), has set minimum requirements/standards which a person must meet before becoming certified as an officer.

An officer must:
  • be at least 19 years of age;
  • be a citizen of the United States;
  • be a high school graduate or its equivalent;
  • not have been convicted of any felony or of a misdemeanor which involves perjury or a false statement, regardless of withholding of adjudication or suspended sentence;
  • not have received a dishonorable discharge from any of the Armed Forces of the United States;
  • have processed fingerprints on file with the employing agency;
  • have passed a physical examination by a licensed physician based on specifications established by the Commission;
  • have good moral character, as determined by a background investigation under procedures established by the Commission;
  • submit an affidavit attesting to compliance;
  • satisfactorily complete a Commission-approved course of basic recruit training;
  • satisfactorily pass the state examination in the respective discipline.


Commission Authority to Discipline

Florida Statute 943.12 grants the Commission authority to certify criminal justice officers, and once a certificate is issued, grants the Commission the authority to discipline the officer’s certification if the officer fails to maintain the standards of certification listed above.

The Commission may discipline an officer’s certification if the officer:
  • pleads nolo contendere, pleads guilty, or is convicted of a felony;
  • pleads nolo contendere, pleads guilty, or is convicted of a misdemeanor involving perjury or false statement;
  • fails to maintain good moral charter as defined by Florida Statute and Florida Administrative Code.
Discipline to an officer’s certification is separate and distinct from any disciplinary action taken by the officer’s employing agency for violations of agency policy and procedure. The Commission’s decision in no way reflects upon the investigation, findings, conclusions, and/or disciplinary action of the employing agency.



Employing Agency Investigation and Reporting

According to Florida Statute and Florida Administrative Code, if an officer commits an act of misconduct, and the officer’s employing agency has cause to believe that the officer has not maintained the minimum standards to be certified and/or has committed a violation of the moral character standards, then the employing agency must conduct an internal investigation concluding with an official disposition (e.g., sustained, not sustained, exonerated, unfounded).

If the internal investigation sustains the allegation, then the agency shall submit the investigative findings and all supporting documentation to the Commission through the Commission’s Staff at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Note: An investigation must be conducted and concluded, and shall contain an official disposition, even though the officer under investigation resigns, retires or is terminated. (943.1395, F.S.; 11B-27.003, F.A.C.).

The Penalties for Misconduct

At the conclusion of the Commission professional compliance process, the Commission imposes discipline on an officer’s certification in keeping with an established set of penalty guidelines.

The penalties include:
  • Written reprimand,
  • Probation up to two years (with or without mandatory re-training or counseling, if applicable),
  • Suspension up to two years (with or without mandatory re-training or counseling, if applicable), and
  • Revocation

An overview of these guidelines follows -
   

Summary

Criminal justice officers (law enforcement, correctional, and correctional probation officers) are vested through their certification with important powers and responsibilities that play an intricate and very significant role in society.

Under the constant scrutiny of the public eye, they must attempt to preserve the peace and enforce Florida’s laws while maintaining an unprecedented level of professionalism.

The Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission has been authorized by the Florida Legislature through the Florida Statutes to ensure that criminal justice officers maintain good moral character and abide by the same laws they are required to enforce. Through the Commission’s Professional Compliance Process, the State of Florida will maintain the highest standards of professionalism for its criminal justice personnel.

The preceding information is an overview of statutory and administrative law and is provided as a guide to Florida’s criminal justice officers.

If additional information is required, please reference the applicable Florida Statute or Florida Administrative Code Rule.