Two years later: How George Floyd's death has changed policing federally, locally

Two years after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, police reform is happening on the federal level and on the local level in Tampa Bay.

On Wednesday, the second anniversary of Floyd’s death, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on changes to the way federal law enforcement officers operate, including a national law enforcement database to track officer misconduct, mandating body worn cameras on patrol and banning choke holds and no knock warrants.

"I believe the vast majority of Americans want the same thing, trust, safety and accountability the vast majority of law enforcement risk their lives every day to do the right thing," said Biden at the White House.

On the local level, some Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies are also reflecting.

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"There’s been a lot of discussions, a lot of reckoning, a lot of trying to find out what is the best way to provide policing in this day and age," said Asst. Chief Mike Kovacsev of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Kovacsev said the department had tough conversations and listened to what the community needed.

"Over the last couple of years, we’ve embraced the CALL unit, which his civilian navigators who go out and especially would address calls that would normally have been taken care of by law enforcement officers. They are individuals who are better trained to deal with people who are having a mental crisis," he said.

The changes not only evolved how St. Pete officers handle calls but also worked toward transparency.

"The second thing is body worn cameras. We’ve embraced that as well as the dash cameras," said Kovacsev. "Those allow for transparency. Those allow for us to provide a better understanding of what we do every day."

Across the bay, protests over the summer of 2020 led Tampa police to rethink use of force, no knock warrants and more as part of 17 changes from a community policing taskforce two years ago.

In addressing no-knock warrants, the agency updated its Standard Operating Procedures to state "that department personnel shall not execute a 'no knock' search warrant unless specifically approved by a judge and with the authorization of the Chief of Police", although a TPD spokesperson tells FOX 13 the department did not use "no knock" warrants even prior to the policy update.

Kovacsev said police are making thoughtful changes to build relationships where they serve and protect. 

"We’ve had a lot of tough conversations, and we’ve listened, and we’ve kind of tweaked the way we’ve done things," he said.

St. Pete police said they’re also in the process of adding 25 more officers to the city’s force, which was approved last year.