On March 2, the Florida Legislature introduced Senate Bill 452, which requires all law enforcement agencies utilize body and dash cameras. The initiative was proposed by Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orange County, as a preventative measure to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Law SB 452 would require all law enforcement officers in Florida to use both body cameras and dash cameras to ensure the safety of both the public and law enforcement. Moreover, the law serves as a measure of accountability since the actions of both the perpetrator and the officer would be under surveillance and monitored. Video footage has historically been a critical component in determining the sequence of events that lead to potential cases of police brutality and use of lethal force.
The law states that audio and video recordings of both devices can be used further in the penal process of a law enforcement encounter or activity being questioned. The law would also require all agencies to retain the data caught on cameras and establish policies regarding proper storage and use of the devices for officers.
SB 452 follows a wave of new police reform initiatives from the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, including fair policing reforms to increase the overall transparency of Florida police departments.
Other initiatives presented by the Black Caucus include compensation to victims of excessive force along with legislation to prohibit the use of military-grade weapons by law enforcement. These are just a few legislative proposals presented in the Black Caucus’s 16-bill package on police reform, which was created in the aftermath of a wave of protests against police brutality last summer.
Worldwide protests ensued after the death of George Floyd on May 25. Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin, who suppressed his breathing by holding him in a chokehold with his knee. After videos were released showing the police brutality against Floyd, millions marched in his name demanding police reform and a proper address of systemic racism throughout the country.
In Tallahassee, just two days after the world witnessed the death of Floyd, the Tallahassee Police Department became the center of criticism after a confrontation that claimed the life of Tony McDade. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot by a police officer after he motioned pulling out a gun while on the run.
McDade’s death is still an ongoing debate as many witnesses claim the officer did not attempt to mitigate the situation and instead shot McDade as soon as he reached for his weapon. State Attorney Jack Campbell and the Tallahassee Police Department were subsequently sued for declining to release body camera footage of the encounter.
The bill has yet to be heard within a Florida Senate committee, but if passed, the implications of SB 452 could usher in new police reform by July 1.
Featured Image: Police officer wearing a body camera. Unmodified photo by Anonymous used under a Creative Commons License. (https://bit.ly/3mCizKL)
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