NewsPinellas County


St. Pete Police to test-run body cameras on six officers

Posted at 11:34 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 06:43:19-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The St. Pete Police Department will soon outfit a half-dozen officers, including Chief Anthony Holloway, with body cameras.

It's all part of a pilot program that will last 45 days.

Chief Holloway tells ABC Action News, body cameras are not meant for building trust as much as strengthening transparency between officers and citizens.

"For the officers that are not doing their job, guess what? I don’t want them here, the officers don’t want them here and the community does not want them here," said Chief Holloway.

The brand BodyWorn, manufactured by Georgia-based Utility, offers cameras that automatically record when an officer pulls their gun or Taser. It also captures up to two minutes prior to that moment.

Officers can also start recording by tapping a digital watch, synced with the body camera.

"You pull your weapon, it’s going to start recording," said Chief Holloway. "So I can no longer say, 'oh I forgot to turn it on.'"

Chief Holloway estimates outfitting 400-plus uniformed officers will cost at least a $500,000.

The agency reports 843 use of force incidents by officers in 2019, with one of those incidents being deadly.

Of those, the agency said only one came from a citizen alleging unnecessary use of force.

Fezjia Brown, a mother of six, says she knows just how important police outreach is in her community. Brown supports body cameras for all officers because they are key to keeping interactions honest.

"We need to get both sides of the story when incidents take place," said Brown. "It’s going to tell you exactly what happened."