Florida Capitol Police
|Florida Capitol Police|
|Patch of the Florida Capitol Police.|
|Badge of the Florida Capitol Police.|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||State of Florida, USA|
|Parent agency||Florida Department of Law Enforcement|
|Florida Capitol Police|
|* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
The Florida Capitol Police is a uniformed police department in Tallahassee, Florida, in charge of security and law enforcement on the grounds of the Florida State Capitol and various other state government buildings.
The Capitol Police was created by the Florida Legislature and began service in 1973 as a plainclothes security force created. Originally known as Legislative Security, it operated under the Florida Department of General Services (DGS).
The first director was Florida Highway Patrol Captain Nathan Sharron, and the original administrative offices were in the Larson Building, with security operations office in a few small offices in the Senate Office Building. In 1973, Capitol Police employed 20 members, including security officers and a handful of plainclothes law enforcement officers, known as special agents. It had the only Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) bomb disposal unit in the Big Bend area.
In 1978, two years after the new Capitol building was completed, Legislative Security moved its operations and administrative offices into the new building.
In 1983, legislation changed the name from Legislative Security to the Division of Safety and Crime Prevention. The director being James McPherson, formerly of the State Beverage Agency. The uniformed police became more highly visible and members were assigned to various state buildings besides the Capitol. Responsibilities increased and included the Capitol Complex as a whole, state buildings, and state facilities in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and 11 other cities known as Regional Service Centers.
In 1985, the Florida Legislature mandated that the Division of Safety and Crime Prevention provide training and safety courses to other state agencies at their request. They were also mandated to develop and conduct evacuation procedures for the Capitol.
During the early 1990s, the department became the Capitol Police. Director James McPherson retired in 1995 and was succeeded by COL Timothy Kerns as Director. Kerns retired in 1998 and Terry Meek, a former FDLE Special Agent, followed Kerns.
After the September 11 attacks, Governor Jeb Bush placed Capitol Police under the direction of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The new Director became Scotty Sanderson, former FDLE Director of Mutual Aid. Security at the Capitol elevated and magnetometers and x-ray machines were used to screen all visitors and additional state law enforcement officers were assigned to the Capitol.
In 2002 the Florida Capitol Police were officially transferred to the FDLE as per House Bill 1407  with sworn law enforcement officers across the state relocated to Tallahassee. Today the primary responsibility of Capitol Police is to protect the security of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the members of the Florida Cabinet, the members of the Florida Senate the Florida House of Representatives, and all employees assigned to assist such state officials in the performance of their official duties and provide security and protection for other state officials, employees and visitors to the Capitol Complex.
As state law enforcement officers, the mission of the Capitol Police is to serve the safety and security needs of both the legislative and executive branches of state government. Capitol Police serve as a specially trained and highly effective security and law enforcement agency serving the Capitol Complex. It shall be the primary responsibility of the Capitol Police to protect the security of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the members of the Cabinet, and the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and those employees assigned to assist such state officials in the performance of their official duties. The Director of Capitol Police also oversees all FDLE protective services for visiting dignitaries to the state of Florida as authorized by the Executive Director of FDLE and the Governor.
Units of the Florida Capitol Police are:
- Patrol - Units patrolling the Capitol Building, Holland Building, Pepper Building and the Capital Circle Office Center.
- Capitol Police Communications Section - Communications is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and responsible for answering and initiating all calls for police and security services at the Capitol and other facilities within the Capitol Complex. Communications has seven full-time staff members and one supervisor.
- Directed Patrol Team - A six-member team which operates primarily from police bicycles for image enhancement, providing accessibility of uniform police officers to the public. The team also reduces the opportunities for criminal activity by enforcement through proactive policing. Each bike is assigned to an officer as his/her primary mode of transportation. Team members must complete an approved mountain police cyclist course through International Police Mountain Bike Association. Duties are: Patrol Operations support, Special Operations support, response to calls for service, crime prevention and community involvement; crime prevention and fire safety programs; bicycle safety education and awareness; and special events participation.
- Special Operations:
- Investigations - Investigations consists of one Lieutenant, two sworn investigators and one Government Analyst. The Investigative Team is responsible for all investigations that occur at the Capitol Complex. Duties include conducting extensive background checks on all Capitol Police applicants. Processing of evidence and property; identifying and interviewing suspects and witnesses; and providing evidence to be presented for criminal prosecution. Work closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to share intelligence information and provide investigative assistance when necessary
- Hazardous Devices - Created in 1974, it was the first squad in the North Florida area to become a fully equipped unit, the first to deploy a bomb robot, and the first to be accredited by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Bomb Data Center. Members must pass FBI mandated physicals, have a minimum of three years law enforcement experience and attend a five-week basic course at Redstone Arsenal, located in Huntsville, Alabama. Due to current terrorism trends and the potential for the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), members must also maintain certification as a Hazardous Materials Technician. The team uses specialized equipment such as portable X-rays, bomb suits, disrupters and robots. The Capitol Police Hazardous Devices Unit is part of the Big Bend Regional Bomb Squad along with Tallahassee Police Department and Leon County Sheriff's Office, covering the 13 counties in the North Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force.
- K-9 - The K-9 unit has two explosive detection canine teams using the Labrador Retriever and are used to aid Capitol Police in maintaining a safe and secure environment for elected officials, state employees and visitors to the Capitol Complex These teams assist in deterring and preventing any possible terrorist acts in and around the Capitol Complex and conduct checks of vehicles attempting to make deliveries to occupants, checking packages and items being brought into the Capitol Complex through various established checkpoints.
- Special Assignments
- Critical Incident Team - Created in August 2003, the five-member Critical Incident Team (CIT) bridges the gap between the occurrence of a critical incident and arrival of the Leon County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team. Members have extensive training in responding to any critical incident at the Capitol Complex and participates in joint exercises with the Leon County Sheriff's Office and Tallahassee Police Department simulating hostage and active shooter scenarios
- Protective Operation Section - Comprising 8 members, the POS provides protective services to members of either of the houses of the Legislature, upon the request of the respective presiding officer. POS team members often train with the Governor's detail to remain current on protective operations and dignitary protection methods.
- Honor Guard - The Honor Guard consists of four officers and one Sergeant charged with displaying the patriotic colors and adding an air of solemnity at officers and families police funerals, parades, and other ceremonial occasions. They participate in opening of the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast, opening of the annual Crime Victim's Rights Week, opening of the annual Missing Children's ceremony, FOP Law Enforcement Memorial Service, Springtime Tallahassee Parade, Dedications of streets or monuments for fallen officers, graduation Ceremony for Graduating Law Enforcement Officers from the Police Academy.