Sarasota, Florida - We've seen the video of officers caught on tape making an arrest, but what we seen doesn't always tell the whole story. The Sarasota Police Department plans to add body cameras for officers to use while on patrol.
Beginning this fall, the next time Sarasota police respond to a call, the officers might be recording you by using a small, bullet-shaped camera.
"It's part of the digital age to be more transparent," says Sgt. Bryan Graham.
City leaders have given the Sarasota Police the green light to purchase 24 body cameras through a 36-thousand dollar grant. The "on officer video" system called Axon Flex is made by Taser.
Graham says, "They're long like a torpedo, small enough to be worn on the collar, epaulette, glasses or hat."
The camera remains on standby until an officer turns it on. The battery lasts 12 hours and the camera can record up to 4 hours of video and audio. At the end of each shift, the officer loads the video onto a secure server. Officers cannot edit, delete, copy or alter the video.
The video is used in prosecuting cases, training officers, and defending officers from false claims of "use of force."
Sarasota Police to add 24 body cameras for patrol officers and SWAT team. Cameras fit on glasses, hat or collar. WTSP
James Shutterfield is visiting Sarasota from Tampa and says the cameras are a good way to protect both citizens and officers. He says, "It will show a person either provoked an officer or did not. It's good for the officer and people."
In Rialto, California, the police department reportedly saw an 88 percent drop in complaints against officers.
When a police officer who is wearing a body camera pulls you over, should he first warn you that everything you say and do is being recorded? And if so is that a violation of privacy?
Lisa Weber, Shutterfield's wife, says, "I think he should disclose the fact I'm on camera, so I am aware of it. I still feel as a citizen, it's an invasion of privacy."
James adds, "Why not have it on video? That way we're both protected."
Police say this is one area they need to research before activating the cameras. "Police officers record on the street all the time and anyone holds a phone on the street records. Do you have to give notice at that point? I don't know for us, we're researching it," says Sgt. Graham.
Macie McGee lives in Sarasota and supports the body cameras for police officers. She says, "I don't think privacy thing is an issue, here. I think it's safety, protection for all of us."