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Cypen & Cypen
NEWSLETTER
for
AUGUST 25, 2003

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001

1. EXPIRATION OF D.R.O.P. PERIOD HITS LAW ENFORCEMENT:
The Florida Retirement System Deferred Retirement Option Program went into effect on July 1, 1998. Thus, as of June 30, 2003, those original participants in the DROP were required to terminate employment. Florida Highway Patrol, the state’s largest law enforcement agency, lost 71 officers -- many at senior management level. In Miami-Dade County, an estimated 300 experienced law enforcement officers departed. Even Florida Department of Law Enforcement was hit, losing its Commissioner, Tom Moore, to termination after completion of DROP. An overall decline in the public sector workforce because of retirement will also result in job openings. According to a recent Recruitment and Retention Task Force study, 40% of state and local government employees will be eligible to retire over the next 15 years. A gap in the civil service field is anticipated, as the baby boomer generation retires and younger prospects elect to join the private sector. This report is from keysnews.com.

2. ANOTHER BRILLIANT IDEA ORIGINATES IN LA-LA LAND:
According to latimes.com, a string of accidents involving motorists who fail to yield to sirens and flashing lights has prompted the Los Angeles Fire Department to issue new guidelines for firetruck drivers that officials say could slow emergency response times. For the first time, there would be speed limits for firetrucks, and drivers stuck in traffic would be required to turn off their sirens and wait until the gridlock clears rather than try to maneuver around vehicles. Currently, traffic laws require emergency vehicle drivers to operate with “due regard to safety,” using their discretion when racing to emergencies. They can travel at any speed they deem safe, based on time of day, traffic and road conditions. And although there are no speed limits, firefighters are required to stop at all red lights and stop signs, and wait for traffic to clear before proceeding with caution. Under the new rules, firetrucks would be prohibited from going more than 10 miles an hour above the posted speed limit, and fire trucks driving into opposing traffic lanes and through intersections could travel no faster than 20 miles per hour. However, one good thing may have come from all this exercise: motorcycle officers will now drive alongside firetrucks on the way to emergency calls, pulling over drivers who fail to obey sirens.

3. FLORIDA SHERIFF MAY USE FORFEITURE FUNDS TO PAY FOR CONFERENCE:
The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, Sections 932.701-932.707, Florida Statutes, authorizes a law enforcement agency to sell or otherwise salvage or transfer property acquired through a forfeiture to any public or nonprofit organization, or retain it for the agency’s use. If seized property is sold, proceeds are disbursed in the following priority: satisfaction of any liens; payment of costs incurred in connection with storage, maintenance, security and forfeiture; and payment of court costs incurred in the forfeiture proceeding. If the seizing agency is a county, the remaining proceeds must be deposited into a special law enforcement trust fund established by the board of county commissioners. Upon request of the sheriff, accompanied by a written certification that the request complies with the law, the funds may be appropriated to the sheriff’s office by the board of county commissioners for: school resource officer, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, drug abuse education and prevention or for other law enforcement purposes (which include defraying cost of protracted or complex investigations, providing additional equipment or expertise and providing matching funds to obtain federal grants). The monies may not be used to meet normal operating expenses of the law enforcement agency. The legislative intent is that trust funds should be used only for the expressly specified purposes or for other extraordinary programs and purposes, beyond that what is usual, normal, regular or established. With this background, the Sheriff of Nassau County, Florida, asked the State Attorney General whether he could use contraband forfeiture funds to pay costs associated with the hosting of the 2004 Florida Sheriffs Conference. The Attorney General concluded that the use of contraband forfeiture funds to host a conference where issues facing law enforcement would be discussed and training sessions may be offered appears to constitute an authorized expenditure of such funds, although their use for ancillary activities, not associated with training or discussion of issues facing law enforcement, would not. The determination of whether law enforcement trust funds may be expended in any given instance, however, is one that the board of county commissioners ultimately must make. AGO 2003-39 (August 21, 2003)

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.


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