Miami-Dade County gives unanimous approval for body camera study
Mayor forges ahead with rollout
MIAMI – Miami-Dade County commissioners took their first step toward considering body cameras for county police officers, unanimously approving a study of the benefits and concerns. But Miami-Dade County's mayor is already forging ahead with a rollout.
"Who is going to be responsible for public records requests? Who is going to review them, who is going to be responsible? The department or whom?" asked Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa, giving voice to some of commissioners' questions and concerns.
"It's going to take some changes to state law in regards to privacy," said Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who said he is already crafting documents to invite companies to bid on body camera contracts.
Gimenez proposed implementing a program for body cameras last year, before the related concerns were raised in the wake of the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri.
The county's current budget already includes $1 million for body cameras for 500 Miami-Dade officers, about a third of the police force.
The head of the officers' union, the Police Benevolent Association, is one of the most vocal critics.
"When we see you as a threat, then we go into tunnel vision. Is the camera going to capture 180 degrees where the human eye can't?" asked PBA President John Rivera.
The mayor indicated the plans would go forward as the commission-mandated study and report is being compiled.
"I'd like to ask that the study include the possibility of a phased-in or pilot aspect," said the commission's newest member, Daniella Levine-Cava.
President Barack Obama indicated that he supported earmarking $75 million to outfit police officers nationwide with body cameras.
"I don't think that's enough," said Gimenez, who also said he would be requesting some of that money for Miami-Dade's program.
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