Surveillance City: Public workers, police to wear body cameras in Miami Beach

Photo Credit Taser International

Miami Beach has a reputation for being Florida’s fashion capital. True to form, city employees will soon be outfitted with a new accessory — body cameras.

The recording devices gained dramatic support in the aftermath of last month’s disputed police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. Both cops and civil rights groups say the technology offers needed transparency.

But South Florida’s posh resort community is taking it a step further.

As part of a new $3 million plan, the city government is purchasing body-mounted cameras not just for law enforcement officers, but for a range of other municipal workers, including code enforcement, parking enforcement, building inspectors and fire inspectors.

The city commission claims Miami Beach is the first city in the country to expand the use of the equipment beyond police.

On the theory that more is better, city officials say the wearable video technology will provide additional security and protection for both city employees and the community.

“There is greater accountability to the residents and visitors to this community when they are interacting — whether it’s with law enforcement or parking officials or building inspectors,” said Jimmy L. Morales, the city manager.

Police Chief Daniel Oates offered a somewhat different view: “Used properly, these cameras will document and capture evidence to put bad guys in jail and help protect the city in litigation.”

Some cop-cam supporters aren’t buying it.

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By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog


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