LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies at the Lee County Sheriff's office will soon wear body-worn cameras. The move comes after years of criticism and the recent firings of several deputies for allegations of excessive force.
Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on Wednesday the purchase of 615 body cameras came down to timing, technology and money. When asked about the use of force investigation and the decision to buy cameras, Marceno said it's not because of any specific case.
"There’s no particular incident. There is no particular case. We have criminal investigations all the time, every single day," Marceno said. "What led to this is my decision. There are no other cases. The timing was on my decision as the sheriff of this county."
Marceno said in the past, the technology did not meet his standards and the price tag was not cost effective.
"I always said I would prefer the funds go towards the boots on the ground instead of being tied up in data storage associated with cameras," Marceno explained.
The cameras are Motorola V700 LTEs, and he says deputies, K9s and jail deputies in high liability areas will get them. It will cost $2.5 million over a five-year period.
"I personally as the sheriff made a choice countless times, I wanted more boots on the street," he said. "If I still had a preference, it still will always going to be more boots on the street."
Fox 4 asked the sheriff how this will impact criminal investigations.
"I know that we go out there and we’re going to do what’s right, but I also know there is human factor," he said. "And the people that want to lie, give or take on either side, it’s a bad day for them because a 1080p high definition snapshot of video will show us exactly what took place."
The cameras will roll out in three phases.
He says in the first phase, representatives from Motorola will assist with building the program and train the agency on the equipment.
"Policies will be written to build fail safes, address legal issues and explain disciplinary actions that stray from the guidelines," Marceno said.
In the second phase, shift sergeants and team leaders will make sure each deputy knows how to use it.
In the third phase, they will expand the settings to better serve the need for accountability, Marceno said.
It's not clear when the deputies will start to wear the cameras as policies and procedures still need to be established.