ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Police Reform is at the center of attention all across the country.
Earlier this week, a verdict in the trial for the murder of George Floyd kept the spotlight on the topic as ex-police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges.
What You Need To Know
- Police reform has been a topic of concern in the U.S. for a long time
- With the murder of George Floyd, it has come to the forefront all over the country
- Orange County Sheriff John Mina says his department has been working hard on reforms and changes for years
Police reform is a topic that not many law enforcement leaders in Central Florida have wanted to talk about, but Orange County Sheriff John Mina sat down with Spectrum News 13 to discuss what is working, what they've learned and what they can do better at moving forward.
Taking a break from his gardening and sitting outside his porch, Ronald Blake says he has heard shots being fired near his home.
He also sees police cars daily.
About 30 years ago, while exiting a store Blake said he was walking home when a police officer stopped him while looking for someone who had just committed a robbery.
“I was uncomfortable because he stopped me,” Blake, a former U.S. Marine, said. “Most Black men, when they get stopped, its an automatic you get stopped because you did something.”
Police harassment is now something on a lot of peoples mind today, especially for a Black man who just happens to be walking on a sidewalk minding his own business.
“There is a mechanism in place to handle that, we haver a professional standard unit,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said. “Many agencies call it internal affairs. Call and make a complaint. If you are not doing anything wrong, you do not have to stop for law enforcement.”
When the Black Lives Matter movement picked up in Central Florida last year, protesters increased their calls for change across all agencies.
When discussing police reform with @OrangeCoSheriff @SheriffMina today, I also asked him about how to handle interactions with students while in school and on campus. @MyNews13 pic.twitter.com/Bm6c1D2P3k— Spectrum News Asher Wildman (@AsherWildman13) April 23, 2021
“And this bothers me,” Blake said, in reference to what happen to George Floyd. “The other people that police kill or harass or put in jail for nothing.”
Mina spent the past year hosting virtual town halls with community leaders and activists to answer any questions, and to look for input.
Mina said the Orange County Sheriff's Office does not use certain choke hold maneuvers and every time his deputies discharge their gun, the FDLE, not his agency, reviews it.
“We have been reforming and changing, making incremental changes for decades now,” he said.
One of those changes was equipping deputies with bodycams.
“As technology improves, so does our equipment, so does our transparency,” Mina said. “Now when a deputy pulls out their Taser, not only does their body cam turn on, but so do all the other body cams that are around, from other deputies are automatically activated. We are transitioning to something for our firearm that will do the same thing.”
As technology improves, it’s the simple things Blake hopes can improve as well.
“Get out in the neighborhoods,” Blake said while walking around his garden. “Go in the Black neighborhoods around the city, and just go talk to people.”
Other ways Mina is hoping to build trust with the community is having officers continue to learn about de-escalation, supporting an initiative to create a database for terminated officers or deputies, and to go out and talk to members of the community.
Appreciate the time provided by @OrangeCoSheriff @SheriffMina. He did not have a copy of my questions before hand. Here is a portion of our interview with his complete answer. @MyNews13 pic.twitter.com/nJ5crnhq7e— Spectrum News Asher Wildman (@AsherWildman13) April 23, 2021