NORTH PORT — The North Port Police Department has issued body cameras to 84 of its officers, making it the only agency in Sarasota County or Charlotte County with the device.
“It validates transparency, the trust and legitimacy in what law enforcement does,” North Port Deputy Chief Chris Morales said. “It takes away the he said, she said. It shows the professionalism of our officers. It controls many, many factors when having that body-worn camera out on the streets.”
The cameras will be issued to road patrol officers, K-9 officers, traffic unit officers, special enforcement officers, school resource officers and community policing officers.
Each officer has two body cameras assigned to them. The additional camera ensures that officers have one available to them before and after work hours, Morales said.
The police department’s policy requires officers to activate their body cameras on all calls for service. The cameras must be turned on once officers are notified of a call, which prevents officers from forgetting to activate the cameras after they arrive on scene.
The new tasers automatically activate the body cameras once the weapons are deployed, Morales noted. Officers will also have a “side-arm signal,” which activates the cameras when officers pull their gun from their holster.
Before all 84 officers were issued their body cameras, 10 were selected to participate in the pilot program, where they had the opportunity to test the cameras for 30 days.
“They were showing the officers after their encounters, going back and reviewing an incident that was so dramatic that they couldn’t remember things,” Morales said. “It helped bring back thought and memory to actually what went on, so that the reports were accurate. That is priceless when you have that there for the officers.”
Officer Scott Guzman, who participated in the pilot program, said he can review evidence captured by his body camera in December, which has helped prepare for a criminal case.
Post time: Jun-24-2019