St. Pete police chief: Free body cameras not without price

Free police body cams

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Taser International – now known as Axon – is offering free body cameras isn't a shock to the law enforcement community.

It's a smart business move, but that doesn't mean departments will buy into the idea.

“The keyword is 'free.' There's nothing is this world that's for free,” said Anthony Holloway, chief of St. Petersburg Police.  

Law enforcement agencies would be able to use body camera equipment and storage for a year free of charge.

Holloway said it sounds like a good deal, but there's so much that goes into equipping officers.

“Because they said 'for a year.' After that year, then who's going to pay for storage? Who's going to pay for the equipment? And, now when the department gets this equipment for a year, I still have to hire people for redacting, for keeping it,” he said.

However, he is on board with the idea of body cameras. His agency will soon test them out through training – with a different company.

“I want to make sure that we're buying the right thing, not only for the officer, but also for the community.”

The call for body cameras was sparked when a St. Louis police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014.

The fair use, consistency and effectiveness of them has been argued ever since.

Lewis Stephens Jr., a teacher and community leader in St. Petersburg, said, “I think it's able to give the citizens a view to be able to see what truly took place,” he said.

He believes cities across the country should strongly consider Axon's offer.

“I think it's so much that goes on with police and the community that we really don't know the true story without it.”
 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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