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Proactive policing

April 15, 2016
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Police interactions in the Cape will get another boost in transparency, something that should benefit both officers and those in the community they serve.

Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously approved the purchase of additional body-worn cameras over the next five years, effectively expanding the "soft launch" experiment that began last March.

The CCPD will purchase a total of 120 cameras and a number of related peripherals, such as licenses, dock upgrades, extended warranties and unlimited storage for recordings made. The agency also will get 120 Tasers as part of the purchase deal, which totals $710,485 over five years.

The use of body-worn cameras has a diverse number of supporters, from the U.S. Congress, which approved a resolution of support last year, to the ACLU, which has deviated from its generally "dim view of the proliferation of surveillance cameras" to general support of - with strict consideration of privacy concerns - body cameras "because of their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers."

"Body cams" also have the potential to protect officers from false abuse accusations.

We acknowledge issues related to privacy; depending on how and when cameras are used can give cause for concern.

However, the Florida State Legislature addressed this issue both last year and this.

In 2015, certain types of recordings, such as those taken inside a private residence or that are medical related, were exempted from public disclosure.

This year, Gov. Rick Scott on March 24 signed into law legislation that requires agencies that choose to use the cameras develop policies and procedures related to their use and storage of the recordings.

We also acknowledge that body cameras are not a panacea.

However, with good policies that take into account privacy and disclosure concerns, they can provide the protective win-win supporters say will benefit the public and law enforcement officers alike.

With its pilot program last year and expansion this, Cape Coral and the CCPD appear to be among entities nationwide that are taking a proactive approach to what likely will become common-use technology.

The purchase of the cameras, makes good sense - and cents - to us.

- Breeze editorial



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