According to a recent investigation by the Orlando Sentinel, Orange County arrests an extremely high number of key witnesses to alleged crimes. In most Florida counties—and in most jurisdictions—arresting witnesses who refuse to testify is extremely rare and typically only occurs in very serious cases. Not in Orange County.
The Sentinel’s story begins with an example of the problem. The witness to the alleged crime was arrested and brought from West Palm Beach to Orlando and was forced to spend eight days in jail. Because she refused to testify in a vandalism case, she seems to have been severely penalized. This is surely not the best way to encourage more citizens to cooperate with law enforcement investigations and it also leads to lawsuits. But as is often the case with the current law enforcement paradigm throughout the nation, strong-arm tactics seem to be commonplace. Perhaps the recent media attention will encourage local law enforcement to re-think the high rate of witness arrests and show the state, the nation and the world that Orange County law enforcement can truly be a model for getting witnesses to testify “with honey rather than with vinegar.”