It has come to our attention that local police agencies in Florida are not equipping their cruisers with a very important tool – CAMERAS!
With the amount of complaints regarding police misconduct that some law enforcement agencies receive on a daily basis, it is important for them to find alternate ways to avoid the possibility of a costly investigation and/or lawsuit. Having cameras installed in their vehicles is a necessity and a tool for today’s law enforcement officials.
Additionally, these cameras (dashboard or body) have the technology to help law enforcement excel in their job and can be used as an important piece of evidence in many criminal cases. For example, the capture and conviction of Dontae Morris, who murdered officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis in 2010, would not have been possible if it wasn’t for police footage of the events that happened on that day.
Unfortunately, the cost seems to outweigh the benefits. The price of the equipment, including memory card, is around $5000 and said to be unaffordable. However, according to Army Col. (Ret) Mike Pheneger, the cameras should be considered a budgetary priority. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office only has them in the agencies 12 DUI units – less than 1% of their cruisers. Other counties have shown more or less the same total number of installed camera equipment in their cruisers: Pasco 1%, Manatee 1%, Sarasota 4% and Polk a staggering 0%.
The cameras are not only placed to record everything that happens when a police officer interacts with a civilian, they are also there to protect the rights and the integrity of both parties under any circumstance that might arise during and/or after the initial contact.