FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 9, 2009
ACLU of Florida Communications Office (786) 363-2737 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ORLANDO, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida released a new report today entitled Public Safety, Public Trust, Profiling and Excessive Use of Force in Orlando. The report outlines findings of a pilot survey conducted to assess the public’s perception of police practices in Orlando.
Nearly four in ten of the respondents view the Orlando Police Department (OPD) as doing a good or excellent job. However, almost a quarter (23.7%) disagreed with the sentence “OPD protects people like me.” The full study can be viewed in PDF at: http://www.aclufl.org/pdfs/OrlandoPoliceReport2009.pdf
More unsettling is the proportion of respondents who have witnessed and/or experienced OPD using excessive force or racial profiling. 42.5% of respondents reported experiencing and/or witnessing excessive force, which is considered to be force beyond that which is reasonable and prudent for a law enforcement officer to use under the circumstances.
“We conducted this pilot study to test how Orlando residents view their police department. The preliminary findings of this pilot study suggest that there are opportunities for improvement in community and police relations,” said Dr. Joyce Hamilton Henry, Director of the ACLU Florida’s Mid-Florida Regional Office. “We are particularly concerned with the large number of residents who report experiencing or witnessing racial profiling. This is a serious issue that will require serious evaluation and action.”
Even a higher percentage of respondents (45%) reported experiencing and/or witnessing racial profiling. These “never events” – events that should never happen with a professional police force – were far too common among respondents.
The ACLU of Florida conducted the survey this past summer after receiving numerous complaints about the Orlando Police Department. Despite the relatively small convenience sample size (a sample population selected because it is readily available and convenient), this pilot study has validated reports made to the ACLU of Florida of racial profiling and excessive use of force by the Orlando Police Department. For many of those surveyed, perception is reality. The Orlando Police Department should consider the concerns raised – weighed against the policies, processes and practices of the Department and its officers. There is a recurring theme of negative encounters that lends further credibility to these findings.
The survey tool was developed by University of Central Florida professor Lee Ross, survey consultant David Cookman, and research writer Nancy Rudner Lugo. Volunteers collected a convenience sample of surveys from 122 area residents in public locations and events
This was a pilot study. Further surveys, with a larger, systematic sampling, are being explored and could provide more useful information.
A PDF of the study can be viewed at: http://www.aclufl.org/pdfs/OrlandoPoliceReport2009.pdf
About the ACLU of Florida
The ACLU of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our web site at: www.aclufl.org.
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