Public Safety Act (Watch)

Public Safety Act (Watch)

CS/SB 7026 (Senate Rules Committee) provides law enforcement, courts and schools with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence. The bill also promotes school safety and enhanced coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local levels. 

Specifically, the bill: 

• Creates the Medical Reimbursement Program for Victims of Mass Shootings to reimburse trauma centers from the medical costs of treating victims for injuries associated with a mass shooting. 

• Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition the person possesses at the time of being taken into custody, if the person poses a potential danger to himself or herself or others and has made a credible threat of violence against another person. 

• Allows an officer who is taking a person into custody at his or her residence to seek the voluntary surrender of firearms or ammunition kept in the residence not already seized. 

• Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise. 

• Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms.

• Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing any firearm. 

• Prohibits a licensed firearm dealer, importer or manufacturer from making or facilitating the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person under the age of 21. This prohibition does not apply to the purchase of a rifle or shotgun by a law enforcement officer or a correctional officer or to a member of the military. 

• Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, transported, sold, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or given away within the state. 

• Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms when they pose a significant danger to themselves or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior. 

• Provides that a court can issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months. 

• Allows a court to issue temporary ex parte risk protection order in certain circumstances. 

• Requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order or ex parte risk protection order is issued. 

• Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended. 

• Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements. 

• Codifies the Office of Safe Schools within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and specifies the purpose of the office is to serve as the state education agency’s primary coordinating division for promoting and supporting safe-learning environments. 

• Creates the Florida Sheriff’s Marshal Program within the DOE as a voluntary program to assist school districts and public schools in enhancing the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors to Florida’s public schools and campuses. 

• Codifies the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SEDNET) as a function of the DOE in partnership with other state, regional and local entities to facilitate collaboration and communication between the specified entities. 

• Establishes the Public School Emergency Response Learning System Program to assist school personnel in preparing for and responding to active emergency situations and to implement local notification systems for all Florida public schools. 

• Establishes the “FortifyFL” program and requires the FDLE to procure a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool that allows students and the community to report information anonymously about specified activities or the threat of such activities to appropriate public safety agencies and school officials. 

• Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility, and requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.

• Requires each school district to designate a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.

• Creates the mental health assistance allocation to provide supplemental funding to assist school districts and charter schools in establishing or expanding comprehensive mental health programs and to connect students and families with appropriate services. 

• Clarifies the applicability of public records exemptions for security systems and plans. 

The bill appropriates $200 million in nonrecurring and $200 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to implement the bill provisions. (Cook)