In 1972, the Florida Legislature created the Pinellas Police Standards Council to conduct research, coordinate policy between agencies, and make recommendations to the legislative delegation for specifically improving the quality of law enforcement in Pinellas County, Florida. The State Attorney, Sheriff, all local Police Chiefs and the Police Academy Director serve on the council. The council, recognizing that high quality personnel are essential toward professional law enforcement services, successfully petitioned the legislature to enlarge the council’s mission to provide a centralized screening center for prospective law enforcement officers in Pinellas County.
That authority, Police Applicant Screening Service (PASS) established in 1975, to administer standardized tests and screening procedures, including exhaustive background investigations, to qualified law enforcement officer candidates. PASS was the first regional assessment center for law enforcement applicants in Florida, substantially reducing duplication of effort while establishing a better pool of candidates available to all participating agencies. The legislature has since expanded the services of PASS to allow screening of other public safety applicants, such as Communications Workers, Firefighters and Paramedics.
Since its inception, PASS has become the model for many other regional assessment centers throughout the state of Florida and the nation. In 2009, PASS was nationally recognized by a study, Law Enforcement Recruitment, sponsored by the Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a model for effective and cost efficient police applicant screening. The council firmly asserts that the exceptional policing services within Pinellas County directly correlate to the high quality selection standards that are the cornerstone of PASS.
Additionally, some of the many footprints of the council for improving the quality of law enforcement services within Pinellas County can be seen through their direct involvement with topics such as the following:
- Adoption and furtherance of Mutual Aid Agreements between Pinellas County law enforcement agencies
- Adoption of Pinellas Assembly initiatives for law enforcement
- Red Light Camera assessment
- Letters of legislative support for a variety of topics affecting the quality of life of Pinellas County residents and visitors
- Adoption of countywide law enforcement policies ranging from prohibitory discriminatory police practices such as racial profiling to their most recent adoption of a policy for sequential line-ups