MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Body cameras are becoming standard gear for Florida police departments. Local 10 News is getting an exclusive look at the latest department to get them: the Miami Gardens police.
"We're not here to hide anything. We're open. We're very transparent," Chief Delma Noel-Pratt said.
Noel-Pratt said it was in the works for the department to have body cameras, but she was instrumental in making them a reality for most patrol officers starting this August.
Officer Wanda Jackson, an 11-year veteran who is among the first in the department to wear a camera, said it has become part of her routine to put a camera on before she starts her shift. She said she thinks the cameras promote positive interactions between the public and police.
"It actually calms the citizens down sometimes when they're upset about something, when they notice the body-worn camera is on," Jackson said.
According to the department, about 100 officers have started wearing the cameras. More cameras will be assigned in the future.
Cameras typically cannot be used in private homes on nonemergency calls, hospitals, mental health facilities or during other sensitive situations.
The video can be stored for years, depending on how it us needed for an investigation, according to police.
Critics have said body cameras risk invading the privacy of private citizens who aren't doing anything wrong. But Noel-Pratt does not think the cameras will strain the relationship her department has worked to build with the community.
"No, not all. I think it's going to be a positive thing for us," she said. "Don't be leery of it. Just interact with us like you would normally. We're here to help, we're here to solve crimes, we're here to interact with the community. Just like we do with our without the body cameras."
According to a city representative, the cost of the cameras was $277,976, and the funds were from the city's general obligation bond money.