Miami to Equip Hundreds of Police Officers With Body Cameras

Miami-Dade Police Department will use a $960,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the purchase and use of body-worn cameras.

MIAMI – Miami-Dade Police Department will equip about half of its 1,300 officers with body cameras by 2019, the city announced.

Miami police received a $960,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the purchase and use of police cameras, according to the Miami Herald. The city secured the grant last week in part by pledging $400,000 of its own money.

The money, according to Miami’s 2017 budget, will pay “for the purchase of 640 body worn cameras, uploading of equipment, digital storage, and technicians to handle the management, retrieval, redaction and release of digital media for the department.” Miami police already own around 100 Taser cameras, purchased more than a year ago as part of a pilot program, according to the newspaper.

In a press release this week, Safariland Group, the parent company of Vievu, a leading provider of body worn video cameras, said it had satisfied its contract to provide body worn cameras to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“I think in the end, it will help our internal affairs clearance rate, only because you’ll have a bulk of the uniformed force on video,” Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes told the newspaper. “It’s not a panacea. Everything isn’t going to be captured.”

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Llanes said he also wants to purchase up to 500 cameras, which will likely have to go through a competitive process. Therefore, the final number of cameras the city will be able to purchase will be determined, in part, by which vendor it selects, he said.

Miami would become the latest South Florida police department to embrace the newly popular but polarizing equipment. Miami-Dade County agreed in March to purchase up to 1,500 cameras, and said Monday that 1,132 officers are wearing the cameras, the Miami Herald reported. Miami Beach announced last month that they are planning to more than double the officers, currently 101, wearing cameras.

When Miami first rolled out its pilot program two years ago, its police union criticized its implementation as “reckless,” the newspaper reported. But Union president Lt. Javier Ortiz said he now supports the increase of cameras. His only concerns, he said, are the rules behind the cameras’ use and the money involved, particularly when it comes to paying for technicians to manage the data and hardware to store it.

“Not only does it increase the public trust, but at the same time it will give the [union] the option that, in the event someone puts a false allegation out against one of our officers to smear their reputation and career, we’ll be able to come after them for perjury,” he said.

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