Whenever there is a police officer-involved shooting, supervisors often call the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for an independent investigation.
Now the agency is struggling to keep up.
According to WFTS Tampa, FDLE’s caseload on officer-involved shootings jumped 31 percent last year; and rising 117 percent during the past five years.
The backlog is leaving the FDLE “overwhelmed.”
“We anticipate the requests for FDLE to investigate officer involved shootings to continue to increase,” FDLE representative Gretl Plessinger told WFTS.
Dealing with massive budget cuts during the past several years, the agency still spent nearly 25,000 investigative hours on such shootings. Reporters recently obtained an internal memo that advises department staffing is “not adequate to address the changing investigative priorities, critical commitments and mandates of the agency.”
For 2016, the FDLE is asking the state for nearly $3.4 million to hire 26 agents, as part of a program to address a critical issue. If the request does not make this year’s budget, officials warn the problem could spread and further delay other important crime investigations.
“Our concern is that we would lose our ability to move resources where we need them most in the state of Florida as time passes,” Plessinger said.