The ACLU of Florida receives hundreds of complaints of police misconduct every year, ranging from verbal abuse, to racial profiling, to use of excessive force, to inappropriate use of lethal force. But that does not mean there has been no progress. In communities across the state, people are organizing to bring about change.

In 2001, Miami residents overwhelming approved a proposal to create a Civilian Investigative Panel with subpoena power to investigate allegations of police misconduct. In the weeks following the November 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meeting in Miami, members of the civilian oversight group began reviewing allegations that Miami police abused their power during FTAA demonstrations by using excessive force, firing indiscriminately at members of the media, bystanders and people who were exercising their free speech rights, barring people from protest sites, and destroying the property of those detained by the police.

More reforms need to be done, however, to bring an end to racial profiling, excessive force, and other practices by law enforcement. The ACLU of Florida believes that good police practices, thorough training, and carefully crafted policies can ensure public safety and prevent abuses in encounters between police officers and citizens.