It took six years, but St. Pete Police officers will finally wear body cameras

The first officers outfitted with body cameras are on duty today, but training for all officers will take four to six weeks to complete.

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA SPPD
Photo via SPPD

It’s been years in the making, but the St. Petersburg Police Department finally unveiled its new body camera program Thursday, which will outfit all 386 department officers with recording equipment.

The department purchased its system through security company Axon, and it will cost SPPD $6.75 million over the next five years. The system includes 575 body cameras, 360 fleet cameras, related hardware, and unlimited storage for recordings.

Axon won the bid over six other companies due to its commitment to getting all officers outfitted by the end of 2020, according to WUSF.

The first officers outfitted with body cameras are on duty today, but training for all officers will take four to six weeks to complete. In-car cameras are expected to be installed in patrol cars by 2021.

The body cameras will automatically begin recording whenever a gun or taser is unholstered, with a 30 second pre-roll. Officers will be required to manually activate their cameras in the following circumstances:

  • Traffic stops
  • Pedestrian stops
  • Crimes in progress
  • Vehicle pursuits
  • Suspicious person/vehicle contacts
  • Arrests
  • Vehicle searches
  • Anytime currency/valuables are handles
  • Physical or verbal confrontations
  • Domestic violence calls
  • DUI investigations
  • Foots pursuits
  • Advising an individual of their Miranda warnings
  • Use of Force
  • During building clearances

Any situation or incident that the Officer, through training and experience, believes should be recorded.

Police Chief Tony Holloway initially supported the idea of body cameras back in September 2014, but substantive action didn’t take place until the St. Petersburg City Council unanimously approved departmental body cameras after a summer of racial unrest, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Meanwhile, Tampa Police are still in the process of purchasing body cameras. The Tampa City Council approved the purchase of 650 bluetooth cameras in June, refinancing three existing bonds to pay for them. However, the move toward body cameras was delayed due to lost tax revenue from the pandemic.

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About The Author

Thomas Holton

Thomas Holton is a journalism student at the University of Florida with an interest in music, culture, and Florida.

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