Loitering and Prowling in Florida

In Jacksonville, especially recently, there is a lot of scrutiny placed on police action when officers initiate contact with citizens and the interaction goes bad. Recently, a man was shot and killed by JSO officers in Springfield. The whole situation started when two officers approached 2 citizens who were walking in the road. One man became upset he was being questioned and things escalated from there. The man eventually ran away and was shot in the back multiple times. In response to the shooting, a police chief told the media, “There were two perfectly good sidewalks” for them to walk on. He implied that if the man had been walking on the sidewalk, he would not have been killed.

This leads me to one of the most frequent reasons police stop and detain citizens. There is a law in Florida that prohibits loitering and prowling. In order to arrest and prosecute someone for this crime in Jacksonville, the elements that must be met are:

1. A person is loitering and prowling in a place, at a time, or in a manner not usual for law-abiding people.

2. The loitering and prowling was under circumstances that warranted a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of people or property in the area.

Police will arrest someone for this crime in Jacksonville simply because they are standing in a high-crime area. That behavior is not enough to sustain a conviction for this crime.