Ed Hooper, Matt Wilhite Get Bill Offering Public Records Exemption for Law Enforcement, Vehicles Signed

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill from state Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Palm Harbor, and state Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, “which will exempt public records requirements for law enforcement geolocation information held by a law enforcement agency.”

Hooper and Willhite introduced the bill at the end of last year.

“Geolocation information refers to the information collected using a GPS or other mapping or locational system that tracks the location or movement of law enforcement officers or law enforcement vehicles,” Willhite’s office noted on Wednesday. “Exempting the geolocation information from public records requirements protects law enforcement officers while they are on patrol and protects the exposure of their residence.”

“It is imperative now more than ever to support and protect the privacy of law enforcement officers. Senate Bill 1046 and House Bill 773 will add additional layers of privacy and protection to the possible exposure of a law enforcement officer’s home address, increasing the chance of harm to them and their families. I look forward to working with Representative Willhite to keep law enforcement officers and their families safe,” Hooper said when he introduced the proposal.

“This law closes a loophole in public records laws that allowed requestors of public records to obtain information from a police officer’s in-vehicle GPS. We understand that many law enforcement officers drive their law enforcement vehicle to and from work on top of using the vehicle while they are at work. In other words, police officers often take their law enforcement vehicle home – where their families live. The potential exposure of a law enforcement officers’ residence puts the officers and their families at unnecessary risk. As we celebrate National Police Week, I am thankful that the governor recognized the legislature’s intent to protect our officers as they continue to protect our residents each day,” said Wilhite on Monday.

Kevin Derby
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