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Bill Expanding Law Enforcement’s Use Of Juvenile Civil Citations Draws Some Concerns

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A top priority for Senate President Joe Negron aimed at decriminalizing adolescence passed its first committee hearing Monday, but not without some concerns.

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) says her bill seeks to bring uniformity to the civil citation program.

“It does require a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or require the juvenile’s participation in a similar diversion program when that juvenile admits to committing one of specified misdemeanors and it’s their first time committing that misdemeanor,” she said.

But, some worry her bill may be too broad. That includes Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), who felt it could tie the hands of law enforcement in certain situations.

“If someone let’s say hits their mom and their mom decides to call 911, and that officer shows up, sees that that person has not been charged with a crime before, but the Mom says, ‘I want him out of here.’ That law enforcement officer then cannot seize that person because the only thing he can do is give that person a civil citation.”

Still, the measure passed 5-2 with Brandes and Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) opposed.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.