Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office supports Marsy’s Law to shield police officer identities

TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to a “time of increasing peril for law enforcement officers,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office wants to file a brief at the Florida Supreme Court arguing that a 2018 constitutional amendment known as “Marsy’s Law” should apply to police officers.

Marsy’s Law included a series of protections for crime victims.

The sheriff’s office filed a motion Tuesday seeking approval to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in a case involving two Tallahassee police officers who invoked the law to prevent their identities from being released after use-of-force shooting incidents in which they were threatened. The officers argued they were victims in the incidents.

The 1st District Court of Appeal last year agreed with the officers, leading the city of Tallahassee to take the case to the Supreme Court.

In the motion Tuesday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office cited an increase in 2021 in law-enforcement officers being killed in the line of duty.

“Thus, the PBSO [Palm Beach sheriff’s office] has an interest in ensuring that a law expressly designed to preserve the safety of crime victims equally applies to law enforcement officers who are victims of a crime and, therefore, limit at least one source of peril to which law enforcement officers may be exposed,” the motion said.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood have taken the opposite stance, receiving approval from the Supreme Court to file briefs arguing that police should not be shielded by Marsy’s Law.

“VSO [the Volusia Sheriff’s Office] is interested in this appeal as it believes that the citizens should know the names of deputies who are involved in the use of deadly force while carrying out their official duties,” a motion filed last month by Chitwood said.

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