Bay County law enforcement considers the use of body cameras

Local News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Recent events around the country have shown the importance of police officers wearing body cameras.

Body cameras are often used to help protect both law enforcement and civilians

“There are always three sides to the story but with video you can actually see what happened,” said Drew Whitman, Panama City Beach Police Chief.

The Panama City Beach police department plans to have cameras on all 65 officers by 2021.

“It protects our citizens from not having unnecessary use of force by the officer and protects the officers from false claims,” said Whitman. “It works both ways. We are just waiting for the cost to come down a little bit.”

This purchase will cost the PCBPD $120 thousand. 

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office sees the importance of the cameras, but at this time they are not able to fit it in their budget.

“To do an agency our size for equipment,” said Joel Heape, Chief Deputy. “I’ve had quotes that it will cost anywhere from and we’ve actually researched this from a price between $150 thousand  and $200 thousand.”

Heape says the BCSO is all for the cameras — but they are just not affordable.

However many consider the use of the camera the extra piece of security they need to feel safe.

 “In order to ensure that compliance, if we make them all wear body cameras it keeps that honest man honest,” said Tony Bostick, the Vice President of the Northwest Florida Minority Group.

News 13 reached out to Panama City officials about the issue. They said implementing body cameras for each Panama City Police Officer is cost prohibitive at this time, but they will continue to seek grant and funding opportunities to implement technology that will continue to provide accountability and transparency.

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