August 17, 2020
By: Staff Report
TAMPA, Fla.- Monday, Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the deployment of body-worn cameras for uniformed patrol deputies and certain specialty units at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Training for body-worn cameras is currently underway.
“The cameras can be deactivated by a deputy, if there’s not a real good justification, he or she will be facing disciplinary action per-our operating procedure. But we wanted to reduce the likelihood of human error and that split second that they have to react. We want to make sure if they forget to turn it on as they get out of their car to face any type of encounter, remove their firearm, or taser, it’s automatically activated. The same thing the minute they turn on their emergency equipment in their car, the camera’s activated again,” said Sheriff Chronister.
Back in June, Sheriff Chronister went before the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners requesting body-worn cameras for the office. Commissioners approved funding for the equipment in a vote of 6-1.
“These are the deputies who have the most interaction with the community we serve,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We’ve seen disheartening situations around our country recently, from civil unrest to vandalism, caused by a perceived lack of trust in law enforcement. We have heard the nationwide calls for change, and I am confident these body-worn cameras will further our commitment at the Sheriff’s Office of continuing to build trust through transparency.”
Deputies began training with the Axon Body 3 cameras on August 10. As each deputy is trained to use the equipment and the standard operating procedures surrounding it, they are equipped with their camera the same day. All of the cameras are expected to be distributed by the end of September.
“I believe the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is one of the most professional law enforcement agencies,” said Sheriff Chronister. “The overwhelming majority of our interactions with the public are positive. We have great deputies doing great work under tremendously stressful situations, and this technology is going to document these interactions.”
The Axon Body 3 will be worn in the center of the chest. The cameras have the ability to automatically activate in certain circumstances, such as a deputy removing their firearm from the holster or when the light bar is activated in their patrol vehicles. The Axon Body 3 is also equipped with live streaming capabilities that will allow supervisors to view the cameras in realtime during a critical incident.
Agencies that have implemented body-worn cameras have seen a reduction in use of force incidents and citizen complaints.
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