WJTV News Channel 12 - Sarasota Police to try body cams

Sarasota Police to try body cams

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Body cameras are used by several law enforcement agencies in Florida but not many in the Bay area. Sarasota Police announced this week they will begin using body cameras on police officers with a pilot program.

"Ultimately we are trying to see if wearing the cameras versus not has an influence on police use of force and also internal complaints and external complains," said Dr. Wesley Jennings with USF's Department of Criminology.

USF is currently studying police body cameras. They are working with Orlando Police and will soon begin working with Miami Police.

"There hasn't been a large scale study to date that has assessed whether this is effective as a policy."

"Both sides will have their story but the true evidence in a sense is going to be on a tape," said Jennings.

Orders for police body cameras from vendor Taser have shot up since the officer involved shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Related story: Police, protesters collide again in Ferguson

For Tampa defense attorney Bryant Camareno, the video tells the truth.

"Local agencies here do not have body cameras but they do have dash cams. Yes, it's worked both ways it's helped us prove our cases; it's helped us prove our client's innocence. It's also shown in some cases where law enforcement didn't act as appropriately as they should have," said Camareno.

"If it was on video I could either prove my client's innocence. If it was on video it could be proven that my client did in fact commit the crime and it would've made everyone's job easier," added Camareno.

While Tampa Police and Plant City Police have considered use of body cameras the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Pasco Sheriff's Office do not use body cameras and are not currently considering use of the cameras.

Tampa has since put out a request for information from vendors.

They are in the exploratory stages, according to Tampa Police Department Spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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