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Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office looking to implement more body cams for protection, transparency

More cameras are coming to Southwest Florida to protect you and the police.

It comes at a time when law enforcement across the country are under scrutiny and facing intense situations daily now.

The ambush of two sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles was caught on video for the world to see. Now, a group of U.S. senators, including Florida’s Rick Scott, wants to make violence against police officers a federal crime.

“What this will do is this will standardize law enforcement ability to prosecute this kind of crime,” explained WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko.

In Florida, it’s a felony to attack anyone in law enforcement.

In states like Virginia, a new bill would allow a judge to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor in some cases.

This new federal legislation says if the crime includes murder, attempted murder or kidnapping, the person convicted faces life in prison.

Closer to home, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is pushing for body cameras.

“We want to show the community that there’s nothing to hide,” said Claudette Bennett, CCSO public information officer.

The sheriff’s office narrowed down its choices from five companies to two. They’re testing out each one for 60 days on the roads and in the jail.

“We’re testing for the durability of the product, the technology that comes along with it and the features that they both have,” Bennett said.

Sheriff’s office staff will learn how to use and distribute the footage.

All video recorded within the testing period will be subject to Florida State Statute. Exemptions will be made by staff when required; and will institute mandatory training of records staff.”

You’ll be able to request a copy, but parks may be redacted to protect victims and active investigations.

“Not only is the accountability and transparency important, but it is a safety feature,” Bennett explained.

Safety for deputies and the people they serve.

CCSO will decide which company to go with after both trial periods. Then, it’s up to county commissioners to approve the funding request.

“The preliminary estimates to cover the body-worn and vehicle cameras range from $909,488-$1,281,020 per year depending on options.  These estimates are subject to change based on vendor selection and the final scope of the project,” Bennett explained.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
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