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Pinellas Law Enforcement Creates New Use Of Deadly Force Procedures

Man stands in front of a podium
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that local agencies will no longer investigate their own officers after a deadly use-of-force incident.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and leaders from several city police departments announced Tuesday that agencies will no longer investigate their own officers after a deadly use-of-force incident.

Instead, the cases will be investigated by other local departments.

The Pinellas use- of- force task force is made up of members from the Pinellas County Sheriff's office, along with police departments in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas Park.

"This change is not because of any incident or because of any issue,” Gualtieri said. “This is about public trust and confidence in outcomes, and making sure that when a determination is made, that people not only know it's the right determination, but believe it's the right determination. Let's not wait until we have a problem or a potential issue.”

The Sheriff acknowledged that ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd precipitated the change. He also addressed the friction that can exist between some police and protesters. 

"And I guess my message to them and my ask of them is to treat us the same way that you're asking that we treat you-- fairly, objectively, impartially,” he said. “And guess what? We’re all not bad. And we are trying to do it the right way and we do it the right way the majority of the time."

Gualtieri also said his office is 'listening' to concerns and is open to reviewing other policies. He said he does not think there is a need for a county citizens review board with investigative authority as some protesters have asked.

“I don’t support and I can’t ever see myself supporting a true investigative citizen’s review board that usurps what we do now,” he said.

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