Civil rights group calls for all St. Pete Police officers to be equipped with body cameras

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A civil rights group is calling for action by demanding the St. Petersburg Police Department equip their more than 500 police officers with body cameras.

The National Christian League of Councils will go before St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday to ask officers to wear body cameras, not gun cameras.

The chief has stated in the past he’s interested in the idea of a newer technology and giving officers a police issued gun with cameras on the end. 

However, while gun cameras don't need to be manually turned on and off, the cameras only turn on when a weapon is drawn and record just one minute before.

Body cameras can record the whole stretch of time before, during and after an incident.

The call for action comes after video surfaced online of Lamonte Stephens being tased twice and beaten while on the ground on March 9.

In this incident, police never drew their weapon. Activists are pointing to this as an example as to why city leaders should support body cameras versus gun cameras.

Back in March, the ACLU of Florida along with the civil rights group, National Christian League of Councils decided to relaunch a campaign to make body cameras law in St. Petersburg. 

The NCLC said they spearheaded the first campaign for the cameras in 2014, but it was opposed then by Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chief Anthony Holloway. 

Chief Holloway tells ABC Action News they have been looking into the body cameras since then, investigating different cameras, budgets and the best option for the department. 

Holloway says they want to make sure they have the latest research and information. 

Initial plans had Holloway taking a camera proposal plan to Mayor Kriseman by May or June and a final proposal with a budget to the city council by Fall.

The ACLU of Florida tells ABC Action News they aren’t just calling for St. Petersburg to use body cameras, but all departments across the Tampa area to do so too. 

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