Coral Springs to buy body cameras for police officers

No one is doubting their integrity, but Coral Springs police officers are likely to start wearing body cameras soon.

The city has issued an RFP for purchase of 100 body cameras; the selected vendor will also provide the hardware and software needed to operate them. The contract is likely to be awarded in November, with the City Commission having the final say on the matter.

“Our decision has nothing to do with what happened in Ferguson,” said Police Chief Tony Pustizzi. “This is not a knee-jerk reaction; we have been talking about this for a year. Some of our officers were asking for them.”

“I want to back my officers,” Pustizzi said. “I don’t have any concerns about my officers; I feel they are among the best in the country. Unfortunately, a police officer’s word is not taken as golden anymore. The cameras will help show the great work that our officers do.”

“Technology is a great thing,” said City Manager Erdal Donmez. “The body cameras will help our officers; it is almost like having another witness. It is good for the victim, as well. We are being proactive here.”

“I’m fine with the concept,” said Commissioner Tom Powers, a former police officer himself. “I think it can protect an officer against false allegations. When I was a police officer, we had dash cams. I happened to like them; it made things easier.”

Powers expects the police department to have guidelines on when to use the camera and when to switch it off. “It will be interesting to see what the rules will be,” he said. “As this is going to have a significant impact on the community, I think staff will consult us.”

Once the contract is awarded, Coral Springs will become the second city in Broward County to have body cameras for police officers; officers in Hallandale Beach have been wearing them during the last few months. Body cams have started gaining acceptance in other parts of the state and the country, as well.

Copyright © 2014, Sun Sentinel

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