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Florida Legislation Calls for Body-Camera Policies

A bill would require law enforcement agencies across the state using the technology to train officers on proper usage.

Body cameras have sparked interest among law enforcement agencies because they ensure accountability. One way to get a clear account of what transpired during a police encounter is to record and review the footage. In the state of Florida, a bill proposes that agencies electing to outfit officers with this technology must institute policies detailing its proper operation.

State lawmakers created the legislation, House Bill 93, to make sure that police are using body cameras the correct way, Government Technology reports. That ensures the safety of both police and the citizens they protect and serve. However, every law enforcement agency in the state of Florida isn’t required to use the technology, because it would be an expensive burden.

Earlier this year, police commissioners in Miami-Dade County approved the expense of as much as $5 million on body cameras over a five-year period. Bill co-sponsor and Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, Fla., told Government Technology that this arrangement hasn’t been cemented because not every agency has the “capacity” to implement it.

At the moment, 18 agencies across the state use body cameras. Ten more test them through pilot programs. Government Technology adds that the legislation would impact less than 10 percent of the state’s agencies because the bulk of them have yet to invest in the technology. However, Jones explained that the bill would cover agencies who have sought out its benefits, as well as the public.

“If you look at the news, if you look at a lot of what’s taking place right now, you’ll find there’s a lot of pointing-fingers taking place — whether from the citizens’ standpoint or from the police aspect,” he told Government Technology. House Bill 93, he said, would eliminate the finger pointing.

Microsoft offering its cloud for the storage of body-cam footage will help make the technology attractive to smaller agencies that lack the resources to house the data. But for those using or testing it at the moment, legislation outlining best practices for using the cameras is currently the best coverage option.

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Nov 13 2015

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