In response to sky-rocketing police brutality settlements, Orlando City Council passed a resolution last month that prohibits the Orlando Police Department from using tax dollars to cover police brutality lawsuits, which totaled $3.6 million in 2014 alone.
Per the resolution, each officer must now spend one hour per shift fundraising for the Orlando Police Brutality Defense Fund. When reached for comment, the Orlando Police Chief noted that “the reality of having to spend a few hours fundraising should be a strong enough deterrent to finally end our community’s police brutality issue.”
The resolution has been in effect for just one month but there are some early signs that the community should be worried about the unintended consequences.
In the first week after the resolution passed, OPD hosted two car washes that were well attended. However, by the third car wash the officers grew frustrated and began searching vehicles that “smelled of marijuana” and arrested over a dozen people who had paid for a car wash.
“I went to the first car wash and it was really mellow. But I was at that third car wash and things had changed, the vibe was off. The cops seemed to be tired of serving the community and then went into protect mode, which meant arresting everyone in sight,” recalls Jacob, a local restaurant worker.
Late last week, a group of off-duty police officers in plain clothes served a no-knock warrant to the headquarters of the Girls Scouts of the USA. Eyewitnesses claim that the officers confiscated recipes to proprietary cookies before killing three front desk workers during their exit. Shortly after the incident, OPD began selling Mint Thins on their Cop Cookies website, which appear to be identical to the Girl Scouts’ top selling cookie. The raid was reviewed by OPD, which declined to bring any disciplinary charges against the officers involved.
Despite the skirmish with the Girls Scouts, OPD has had fundraising success by selling their baked goods. But this success has come at a cost for the local community.
A few families have reported officers un-holstering their weapons after someone declines to purchase Cop Cookies. A 19-year-old man claimed that the police sold him a “special brownie” and then immediately arrested him for marijuana possession. A mother of three was pepper-sprayed on her front porch after allegedly shouting, “ACABB – all cops are bad bakers!” The woman’s Ring doorbell captured the exchange but a grand jury that reviewed the footage sided with the officers.
Police brutality claims are expected to triple in light of the recently passed resolution.