SWFL law enforcement look further into buying body cameras

Author: carolyn Brewster
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla.- In response to the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Mo. not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, the family of Michael Brown is campaigning for all officers to wear body cameras. It’s a trend that many agencies across the country have already been following.

According to a recent Sachs Media Group poll almost 70 percent of Florida voters believe officers should wear them and among African American voters that figure jumps to almost 100 percent.

Fort Myers police were the first to invest in body cameras in Southwest Florida, with Cape Coral being the second. WINK News checked in with other agencies to see if they plan to follow suit.

“We’re looking into it,” said Lieutenant John Barkley of the Naples Police Department.

That was the answer from almost every sheriff’s office and police department WINK News spoke with.

Along with the Naples Police Department, Lee, Collier and Charlotte County Sheriff’s Offices say they’re researching the cameras. The Punta Gorda Police Department is also considering the cameras but say they’re not close to making a decision.

“We’re going to communicate with the agencies around us that are going with the body cameras to see what their pros and cons are and to see the things that they like or don’t like about it,” said Barkley.

One argument against the cameras is the cost, which is between $150 and $600 per camera.

Lieutenant Barkley says another potential problem is that video becomes public record.

“Are there some privacy concerns about when the officer should be video taping, what they should be video taping? Should they video tape every encounter they have with a citizen? Would that discourage some citizens to come up and give them information?” said Barkley.

Proponents say in the long run the cameras will lead to fewer lawsuits and lower insurance costs.

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