Liberty County is located in the northern part of the state in the panhandle, and it is also the least populated County in the state of Florida. That means the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office is essentially the size of a small town police department.
However, even in this setting, police misconduct still occurs occasionally and needs to be taken seriously.
Liberty County Sheriff Arrested
In the past, the county’s own sheriff was arrested for a number of improper actions. In 2013, Sheriff Nick Finch was charged with official misconduct. An FDLE investigation found that the sheriff had improperly ordered a prisoner held on a charge for carrying a concealed weapon to be released, then altered or destroyed the relevant paperwork related to the crime and the suspect’s arrest. The governor had to appoint an interim sheriff to the same position shortly afterward.
What is the FDLE?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is a statewide agency that is meant to encourage public safety by working with various local governments within the state as well as the federal government. These responsibilities used to be divided between several criminal justice bureaus around the state until they were consolidated into the FDLE.
There are various laws within the Florida Statutes that give the agency authority to maintain standards for professionalism and conduct within law enforcement. This power also includes the ability to bring disciplinary actions against officers who deviate from these ethical and behavioral standards. Relevant standards state the an officer may use force in limited circumstances such as self-defense or to prevent the flight of a suspect, but force beyond what is allowed by these guidelines is considered to be excessive.
Actions against misconduct
This agency is usually involved in working with cities and counties to investigate many high profile cases of police misconduct. When allegations of wrongdoing or police brutality occur, the agency can provide an independent source to analyze the situation and relevant facts to determine what action, if any, should be taken against the offending officers.
However, because this is a state government agency, many of their internal procedures and the results of investigations may be difficult for the public to find. It is common for someone researching a particular incident to find that the incident was “under investigation by the FDLE” with little other information available. While this body can exercise its own independent judgment that allows for a level of detachment beyond each department’s internal affairs, the result of investigations by either body seems to be similar. Police are rarely disciplined by their own employer or local governments for improper actions.
What should be done instead?
For those who have experienced the consequences of police violence, false arrest, or economic harm, it is best to contact a lawyer rather than hope the government takes disciplinary action. Even in instances where an officer is being investigated by the local government or state, your lawyer can still file a civil lawsuit to collect money based on the relevant misconduct.
Contact a lawyer in Liberty County
There are lawyers who specialize in police misconduct cases in Florida who are available to help you. Please contact one of these lawyers to find out if you can be compensated for the harm you have suffered.