The camera never lies
As Sheriff of Broward County, I have worked to bring transparency and accountability to the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO). It is an imperative element needed to maintain community trust. Bodyworn cameras are a key to providing this public accountability.
It is important that you see the many great things our deputies do right day in and day out; but the few times we make mistakes and do things wrong, we must also be accountable. There is no better way of seeing what actually happened than a visual record of an incident. The public and law enforcement officers have a right to see and hear what goes on in the street when we do our jobs.
On my orders, BSO has already begun the process of implementing body cameras for our uniformed road patrol deputies. The use of this technology will protect good deputies from false accusations, build evidence to increase conviction rates for the criminals we arrest and help protect the public from the isolated instances of officer misconduct. Recording the interactions between our deputies and community members will help improve officer safety, strengthen trust and transparency and better document incidents and crimes.
Our community wants body cameras. I want body cameras. And body cameras are here at BSO.
The results from law enforcement agencies around the country that use body cameras are encouraging. These agencies saw a drop in use-of-force incidents. The best example is the Oakland Police Department in California, which has 800 body cameras in use – the most of any U.S. police force as of this writing. Since the deployment of body cameras, the department has seen a sharp decline in attacks on officers and officer-involved shootings. At the same time, arrests in Oakland have stayed consistent with past numbers, dismissing a belief that the body cameras cause law enforcement officers to hesitate when they see something wrong occurring. Other departments with body cameras have posted similar positive results.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office currently has nearly 100 body cameras in use where they can be most effective. We are currently equipping road patrol deputies, who have the most interaction with the public. We are already in the process of widening this safety campaign to acquire more body cameras. It is my intention for all uniformed deputies agency-wide to wear them while on duty.
There will be only two kinds of law enforcement agencies in the future: those that start using body cameras reactively because something terrible happened and those that use them because they proactively realize the great benefit of the devices. We are proactive. Hesitation to use body cameras could only serve to erode the solid trust we have built within our community.
I believe body cameras are a win-win for our hard working deputies and for all residents of Broward County.
Sheriff Scott Israel