2 FL lawmakers want officers to wear body cameras

- For the past two years, deputies in Pasco County have worn body cameras full-time.

"There were many deputies around the street that were saying they wanted to be protected," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.

But not every police department or sheriff's office across the Bay Area has them. Now, a pair of democratic lawmakers want to change that. They want to require them for all officers who make routine traffic.

"The biggest thing that comes out of those traffic stops are complaints," said Nocco. "You know a lot of times it's complaints against law enforcement officers. The great thing about the body worn cameras for the Pasco Sheriff's Office has been, I believe, a reduction in complaints and the fact that people come in, they want to file a complaint, once they hear we have a body worn camera, they actually say, 'Never mind, I don't want to follow through on this complaint.'"

"Everybody does not trust police officers anymore. We have to stop that," said one of the bill's co-sponsors, Sen. Daphne Campbell. "This is why this bill is so important, just to get back the trust between police officers and the communities."

Clearwater Police don't wear body cameras, but Chief Daniel Slaughter said he doesn't feel they will build trust either. While Nocco supports body cameras for his own force, he doesn't believe it should be mandated. 

"You have to believe in what you're doing and if it's forced upon any agency to get the body worn camera, it's going to be a complete failure," said Nocco.

Lawmakers introducing the bill say there's no downside for the public or the police.

"The heightened level of scrutiny by citizens has been reduced they know police officers have body cameras," said Sen. Bobby Powell. "This provides an extra layer of protection for our public safety officers, and for us as citizens."

Tampa Police are still testing body cameras out, but say the experience has been positive so far. Body cameras are not cheap. The deal Sheriff Nocco got in Pasco County cost more than $1.9 million over five years.

"From a public perception and from us as an organization to help our members, it has been one of the best investments we've ever made," said Nocco. 

Up Next:

Up Next

  • 2 FL lawmakers want officers to wear body cameras
  • Koch-backed group takes aim at Rays stadium plan
  • Firefighters union votes down contract with Hillsborough County
  • Frontier grilled about 911 service outage
  • Cameras capture close calls, wrecks at red lights in New Port Richey
  • Hit-and-run suspects found camping in Pasco County woods, police say
  • Hernando Beach could finally get a beach
  • Program turns Tampa's veterans into beekeepers
  • Bay Area students join March for Our Lives movement
  • After 2 years in shelter, Ember finds forever home