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Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office responds to "8 Can't Wait" campaign

The sheriff says while his department exceeds the recommendations on police policies, he wants to continue the conversation with the community.
Credit: HCSO

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, activist group Campaign Zero has launched #8CantWait. The trending hashtag represents the database tracking policies proven to curtail police violence. 

RELATED: #8cantwait project aims to curtail police violence

These are the policies being tracked by the 8 Can't Wait database:

1. Banning chokeholds and strangleholds
2. Requiring de-escalation
3. Requiring warning before shooting
4. Exhausting all alternatives before shooting
5. Duty to intervene
6. Banning shooting at moving vehicles
7. Requiring officers to stop another from using excessive force
8. Requiring comprehensive reporting of use of force

Campaign Zero says these policies don't need to be approved by Congress or have an executive order to pass them. Instead it's city mayors that are in charge of implementing them. 

RELATED: Head of Tampa Bay Chiefs of Police Association reacts to death of George Floyd

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says his department has and will continue to be transparent about it's procedures. He says his deputies meet and exceed the #8CantWait recommendations.

"We as law enforcement officers owe it to our community to share our policies and procedures. We have always done so and will continue," Chronister says.

"We have developed extensive use of force restrictions and de-escalation techniques for our team. We want the public to know what our deputies are trained to do and how this keeps our community safe."

Sheriff Chronister says his deputies are never taught choke or strangleholds. The department teaches "duty to act" -- a policy to intervene if a deputy uses excessive force. He also says any use of force is reported by supervisors. 

The sheriff also explains why some recommendations, like not shooting at moving vehicles, haven't already been put in place. He says he wants to keep talking with the community about moving forward from this incident safely.

“I hope the “8 Can’t Wait” conversation will help us turn the page from destroying buildings and stealing from businesses to a meaningful discussion on how we make progress together," Chronister said.

You can read all 8 HCSO policies below:

Mayor Jane Castor, former chief of Tampa police, says the department has also been transparent about it's use of all 8 policies.

The #8cantwait project is inspiring change across the country and right here in Tampa Bay. Local law enforcement leaders are discussing forming a committee to review community policing policies.

Both the Temple Terrace and Sarasota police departments are no longer using vascular neck restraints. Four other local departments still have it in their policies: the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Wauchula Police, Auburndale Police and Dade City Police. Those agencies clarify that the tactic is only to be used if deadly force is authorized.

The Pinellas County Sheriff Office sent 10 Tampa Bay a statement further adding that it does not train or teach deputies Vascular Neck Restraints or any types of choke holds.

"The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is always mindful of our policies, especially those that are high risk, such as our use of force policy. We constantly review our policies to ensure we are serving the community the best we can. Our use of force policy does not require any changes because PCSO does not utilize neck restraints/choke holds. Choke holds are never permitted unless deadly force is authorized. Please remember, deadly force is force that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm," the sheriff's office stated in an email to 10 Tampa Bay.  

RELATED: Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies respond to calls to remove use of neck restraints

Local departments are making other changes as well in an effort to do more transparent police work. Tampa City Council has approved a grant to get the police department 650 more body cameras. Right now TPD only has 60. The Clearwater Police Department is also considering equipping officers with body cameras.

RELATED: Tampa City Council approves funding to buy 650 police body cameras

Changes are happening across the U.S. too. Pittsburgh’s mayor says they support it and have already implemented many of these policies. Two Los Angeles County supervisors have called to adopt the policies as well. On Friday, Minneapolis also agreed to ban all chokeholds by police and require by standing officers to stop them.