x
Breaking News
More (0) »

Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

10 Investigates: Most Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies have very few body cameras

We found 12 out of 15 major law enforcement agencies do not have body cams. Only one agency had dash cams on all its cruisers.

TAMPA, Fla. — The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has catapulted conversations about police back onto the national stage. In recent weeks, transparency has been a big part of the dialogue in the Tampa Bay area.

Advocates for police reform point to the importance of video showing police encounters.

“I think transparency is really important and a lesson I’ve learned in the past few weeks that we need to do more of,” said Chief Dan Slaughter with the Clearwater Police Department.

Right now, Clearwater doesn't have police body cameras.

“We did a study a few years back when technology was emerging. We looked at storage cost, redaction in materials, and the concern about public records at the time,” Slaughter said.

But he expects that to quickly change over the next couple of months. He said he has already had conversations with the city’s mayor and will be meeting about body cams with city council in July.

RELATED: 10 Investigates asked Tampa Bay law enforcement for the race breakdown in their departments; here's what they said

“My perspective is much more supportive going forward,” said Slaughter. “The (NFL Quarterback) Drew Brees thing made me think about them in a different light. The whole thing on kneeling, the issue isn’t related to flag and don’t think body cams are directly related to catching police doing something wrong."

"It makes the public feel more comfortable in our role," he added.

And it’s not just the Clearwater Police Department that has yet to turn cameras on.

This is where Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies stand on body cams and dash cams:

St. Petersburg Police Department

  • Body cams? Yes
  • Total body cams? 5
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 9%

Hernando County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 29%

Auburndale Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? N/A
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

 Polk County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? No
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Sarasota Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 19%

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 12%

Clearwater Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 9.4%

Pinellas Park Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 75%

Winter Haven Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? No
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Citrus County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? No
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? 100%

Lakeland Police Department

  • Body cams? No
  • Total body cams? None
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? Yes
  • Total body cams? 100%
  • Dash cams? No
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

  • Body cams? Commissioners have voted to get them
  • Total body cams? Not yet available
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A

Tampa Police Department

  • Body cams? Yes
  • Total body cams? N/A
  • Dash cams? Yes
  • Percentage of cruisers with cams? N/A                        

While most Tampa Bay area agencies do not have body cameras, the conversations are changing about them in some local departments.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office tells us while it doesn't have any cameras right now, it is in the process of evaluating the system. Sarasota police say they are also having a conversation with city council about cameras.

The St. Pete Police Department is currently testing out five body cameras.

“We have over 500 officers in uniforms. Maybe this first year, we roll out 200 and some. Hopefully in next 2 and a half years, everybody including detectives would be wearing a body camera,” said Chief Anthony Holloway of the St. Pete Police Department.

But that’s not the case in Polk County. Not one local law enforcement agency in the county has body cams, according to the Lakeland Police Department.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has been against either body cams or dash cams. His position on either still stands -- citing cost and an invasion of privacy.

“Body cameras don’t point at us they point at you. The government does not have right to put body cameras on and photograph the sanctuary where you should be safest. The government does not have a right to do that,” says Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

A study done by Arizona State University found there are benefits to body cameras. It found that officers with body-worn cameras were more productive making arrests, had fewer complaints lodged against them relative to officers without body-worn cameras and had higher numbers of citizen complaints resolved in their favor.

“Transparency has always been important for law enforcement agencies and adding on body cams adds another level to that,” said Chief Holloway.

RELATED: Please hold: Florida adds virtual 'waiting room' for unemployment website

What other people are reading right now:

FREE 10 TAMPA BAY APP: 

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter