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Fair and Impartial Policing

I. PURPOSE: To affirm the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office’s (OCSO) commitment to fair and
impartial policing and to reinforce procedures that serve to assure the public that we are providing
service and enforcing laws in a fair and equitable manner.
II. SCOPE: This policy and procedure apply to all OCSO employees.
III. POLICY: The use of biased policing activities by employees is prohibited. Enforcement activities,
including but not limited to investigative detentions, traffic stops, arrests, and searches and seizures
of property, must be based on a standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause as required by the
Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and statutory authority. Officers must be able to
articulate specific facts, circumstances, and conclusions that support probable cause or reasonable
suspicion during any enforcement action.
A. Biased Policing: The inappropriate consideration of specified characteristics while
enforcing the law or providing police services. Specified characteristics include, but are
not limited to, race, ethnic background, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual
orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, age, disability, political status, or any other
legally protected characteristics.
B. Reasonable Suspicion: articulable facts that the subject of enforcement action has
committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime or is presenting a threat to
themselves or others.
C. Constitutional Requirements: All OCSO members will ensure compliance with
constitutional requirements during criminal investigations including interviews,
interrogations, and access to counsel; for both juveniles and for adults.
D. Complaints from the Public: Any member of the OCSO may receive and document a
complaint. Complaints will be routed to a supervisor for investigation, up and to include


REVISED DATE: 01-13-2023
internal affairs if necessary.
E. Detection of Deception: If technical aids (CVSA) for the detection of deception are being
considered for any purpose, the subject cannot be forced to participate, and examiners must
have a certificate of training.
1. General
a Deputies shall not take enforcement action based on biased policing.
1) Enforcement activities shall be based on a person’s conduct or other specific
identifying information.
2) Deputies must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause supported by articulable
facts that the subject of the enforcement action has committed, is committing, or is
about to commit a crime or is presenting a threat to themselves or others.
b Deputies shall not consider traits such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion,
age, or cultural group in establishing either reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
c No person shall be singled out or otherwise treated differently because his/her race, ethnic
background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, or other
such traits.
d Violations of this policy and procedure shall result in remedial training and/or disciplinary
action as set forth in the OCSO policies and procedures.
e Deputies who witness or who are aware of instances of biased policing shall report the
incident to a supervisor. Also, where appropriate, Deputies are encouraged to intervene at the
time the biased policing incident occurs.
f Supervisors shall ensure that all personnel in their command are familiar with the content of
this policy and will be alert and respond to indications that biased policing is occurring.
2. Preventing Misperceptions of Biased Policing
a. To prevent inappropriate perceptions, Deputies should utilize the following strategies when
conducting pedestrian and vehicle stops:
1) Always be courteous, polite, and professional.
2) Prior to asking for identification, driver’s license, registration, etc., introduce yourself
(Deputy, then name and Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office) and explain the reason
for the stop unless doing so will compromise the safety of yourself or others.
3) Ensure that the length of detention is no longer than necessary to take appropriate action
for the known or suspected offense.
4) Answer any questions the citizen may have (including, if applicable, explaining options
for the disposition of any issued traffic citation).

5) Provide your name and ID number when requested, preferably in writing or on a
business card.
6) In the event the reasonable suspicions were unfounded (e.g., after a BOLO stop), you
should explain to the citizen the reason for the stop and why the citizen was detained.
7) Ask the citizen if they have questions about the detention after explaining the reason
for the stop.
3. Training
a Training protocol shall ensure that all employees receive ongoing training in subjects related
to preventing biased policing.
b Training may be offered as part of orientation, in-service training, line-up training, specialized
training, etc.
c Training should include fair and impartial policing including legal aspects in accordance with
Florida Statutes, field contacts, traffic stops, search and seizure issues, asset seizure, forfeiture,
interview techniques, and cultural diversity.
d Sworn members at OCSO will participate in FDLE-provided online training.
4. Corrective Measures
a. Any corrective measures taken shall be documented.
5. Reporting Requirements and Analysis
a. The Sheriff shall designate a member to conduct an annual documented administrative
review of traffic stop procedures related to fair and impartial policing.
6. Community Education/Awareness
a The OCSO shall when operationally prudent, keep the community aware of the Agency’s
enforcement efforts.
b Community awareness may include, but is not limited to, the following:
1) OCSO website and social media.
2) Newspaper and online articles.
3) Meetings with local civic and religious groups.
4) Homeowners’ associations and other organizations.
c Whenever appropriate, the OCSO shall cooperate with other organizations in community
education and awareness efforts related to fair and impartial policing.

7. Violation
a. A violation of any part of this policy may be grounds for progressive disciplinary actions.

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