Winter Park, Fla., Police to Soon Wear Body Cameras

Police officers in Winter Park will be joining a growing number of Central Florida law-enforcement agencies that have made the recent decision to use the recording devices while in the field.

by Lisa Maria Garza, Orlando Sentinel / October 10, 2019
Orlando PD Headquarters Courtesy City of Orlando

(TNS) — Winter Park, Fla., police officers soon will be wearing body cameras on patrol, joining the growing number of Central Florida law-enforcement agencies to use the recording devices.

City commissioners approved the department’s request last month as part of the city’s fiscal year 2019-2020 budget for 64 body cameras, ongoing cloud storage and the conversion of a part-time records-keeper position into a full-time job.

Police Chief Michael Deal said he hopes to implement the program as soon as possible but that depends on the purchasing of the cameras, developing a usage policy and training officers and staff.

“We are currently evaluating different body cameras to ensure we get the one that meets our needs and budget,” Deal said in an email.

According to the police department, first-year equipment and operating costs could run about $92,000 with an annual cost thereafter estimated at about $72,000.

Deal previously said the department was able to lower the cost of its program from a 2017 request squashed by commissioners — which called for $200,000 in initial program costs and $140,000 for annual maintenance — by reducing the number of cameras and eliminating “unnecessary features."

Winter Park was one of the last holdouts among Central Florida authorities to employ the surveillance tools.

Many area law-enforcement agencies have embraced the monitoring technology as an asset that provides clarity after incidents such as officer-involved shootings or citizen complaints.

The Orlando Police Department had all its officers wearing cameras by late 2017 while Orange County sheriff’s deputies had them in large numbers in 2015. Maitland and Eatonville implemented programs last year. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office applied for a federal grant worth more than $500,000 to cover the cost of 150 body camera systems.

Leesburg police officers don’t wear body cameras but Capt. Joe Iozzi said the department intends to purchase some in the “near future." The agency’s patrol division and a few specialized units currently use dashcams, he added.

The department’s budget for this fiscal year includes funds to buy several in-car cameras that are capable of syncing with body cameras, according to Iozzi.

“From there, we will likely expand the program as we purge out the old equipment for new,” he said.

©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Platforms & Programs