BRADENTON, Fla. - When their lights and sirens activate, body cameras on Manatee County deputies will start recording.
"It was very important to us to get a really clear picture and to show everyone in the public what my deputies go through each and every day," said Sheriff Rick Wells.
The cameras are small, but Wells said they now have a big job.
"We want to be able to truly show people everything that's going on with these deputies when they are out there on call," said Sheriff Wells.
Showing the whole picture is important; not just a snippet of an incident caught on a bystander's cell phone and posted to social media. Sheriff Wells said they want to avoid quick judgments being made before the facts are available.
"It's really discouraging to see all of that going on. That’s why I felt it was very important for these deputies to have the body cams and to be able to safely do their jobs and that transparency and showing people what truly happened during that event," said Sheriff Wells.
More than 425 deputies are already wearing the cameras. More will come by next week. Sheriff Wells said they're already doing their job.
"We've already been able to get rid of two false complaints in just the last couple of weeks with people trying to complain on a deputy for something he or she never did," he said.
The cameras can also be activated by deputies or when their gun is drawn. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office signed a 10-year contract for $10.8 million with Axon, which has also replaced the county's 500-plus stun guns.
"It's my opportunity to give my perspective from start to finish," said Lt. Matt Bates.
Bates said the camera doesn't change a deputy's role, but gives an unfiltered look at each call.
"This will still be on our chest, recording, but it’s not something that we are focused on. We will still provide the service that needs to be done," said Lt. Bates.