The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office may be one of the first law enforcement agencies in our area to buy and wear body cameras.
This week – in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri – President Obama called on Congress to allot millions to help pay for them.
Deputies on patrol in Wakulla County may soon go from no cameras – not even in their cars – to high tech cameras that clip right onto their shirts.
There’s no money down yet, but a WCSO spokesman says the sheriff is considering outfitting deputies with body cameras.
“We’ll try to get at least 40, so we’re looking at probably 28 to 30,000 dollars,” WCSO Spokesman Keith Blackmar said.
The Wakulla County Sheriff is a former trooper, he said, who was used to dashcams on patrol.
Blackmar says the sheriff has been considering the body cameras since he took office and has already field tested several models.
“It’s expensive. It would be very nice if they were willing to help the agencies … a small agency like this could use some help funding,” Blackmar said.
This week in the wake of violence in Ferguson Missouri, President Obama called on congress to allot 75 million dollars to help agencies buy body cameras.
The cameras come with lots of questions about privacy and policy.
When will they be turned on and off? Will they discourage victims of sex crimes and domestic violence from reporting? Which videos will be saved and for how long? And how will body cams synch with Florida’s sweeping sunshine law?
“I would hope the public wouldn’t want to rush into anything,” said Matt Puckett, CEO of Florida Police Benevolent Association. “I think there are a lot of concerns, financial, privacy concerns, we’ve got to think about the victims.”
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has in-car cameras now. Any discussion of body cameras, a spokesman points out, will also be a discussion about data and how to store it in compliance with Florida’s public records law.
“As of right now we haven’t settled on any one technology, and we are curious to see what grant funds will become available because of this,” LT Tony Drzewiecki said.
Madison County deputies started wearing body cameras in September.
MCSO Spokesman Epp Richardson says its entire uniform patrol wears the cameras each day and records all law enforcement contacts. The videos are downloaded each day, he said, and any recordings of evidentiary value are copied and put into the evidence locker.
To see more on that: