Despite a police union grievance stating that body cams could lead to the death of officers, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez appears to be on his way to implementing the cameras into the largest police department in the Southeastern United States.
The issue goes before the Miami-Dade County Commission tonight, which will decide whether or not to approve a million dollars to purchase 500 body cameras to be used by Miami-Dade police officers beginning next year.
John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association, is expected to be in attendance tonight to continue his argument that transparency kills officers.
The spin-filled union grievance filed last month and quickly denied by the county, stated the following:
The Dade County Police Benevolent Association has become aware that Miami-Dade County/Miami-Dade Police Department intends to outfit Miami-Dade police officers with body cameras. The Association believes that this unilateral change in terms and contains of employment violates the current collective bargaining agreements as it will distract officers from their duties, and hamper their ability to act and react in dangerous situations consistent with their police training, placing the lives of of the public and the officers in danger. As anyone with knowledge of place training and tactics knows, if an officer hesitates for even a second in a life threatening situation, it can cost that officer his or her life, and/or put the lives of others at risk. This unilateral change will also potentially reveal the identity of undercover personnel to criminals and expose surveillance techniques, in violation of the Agreements and the Law. This puts officers’ safety at risk.
And speaking of undercover officers, the Miami-Dade Police Narcotics Bureau is so concerned about concealing their identity, that they donned masks and posed for an Instagram photo, receiving all kinds of compliments from social media savvy officers throughout the country, including one guy who stated: “What are these guys afraid of … Nothing!”
Well, nothing except body cams.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Gimenez now that most of the country seems to have been awakened to this current police state of affairs in the wake of Ferguson.
Not only has the White House come out in support of these cameras in response to a national petition, a recent poll of Floridians indicated that 62 percent of residents approve of the use of body cams on officers while 30 percent disapprove, the latter group probably made up of cops and criminals who don’t want their actions recorded.
But even before a Ferguson cop shot and killed an unarmed teenager in front of hordes of witnesses, still allowing police to spin the story in their favor because it wasn’t captured on camera, the issue of body cams had been studied with the focus mainly being on the Rialto Police Department in California where use of force incidents were reduced after the introduction of cameras.
But as we’ve pointed out on PINAC earlier this year, the Albuquerque Police Department is proof that cameras alone won’t do much to curb use of force incidents. It takes leadership, training and education, which seems to be the factors that led to Rialto’s success.
Last week, the Miami Beach City Commission approved the use of body cams for the Miami Beach Police Department, becoming the first law enforcement agency in the county to do so.
But that department’s union boss, Alex Bello, also opposed them, stating not only can they place officers’ lives at risk, but that officers of the scandal-plagued department do not need to be monitored.
Just to show you how opposed these South Florida cops are to transparency, the union that serves the Dallas Police Department is asking for body cams in the name of safety, the same union that claimed earlier this year that citizens who record them place their lives in danger.
We not only will be in attendance in tonight’s commission meeting, we will be asking Mayor Gimenez to sign our newly launched PINAC Pledge which will state the following:
I, _____________, _(title or position), pledge to all of the citizens and residents of _________________, the following PINAC Pledge:
One, I recognize the right of the People to record public officials, including law enforcement personnel.
Two, I will support and vote for required use of video recording devices by law enforcement personnel.
Three, I will support and vote for public access to all video recording of public officials including law enforcement.
This is an effort that we hope to spread nationally, so it will take readers to approach their local politicians to ask them to sign it. We don’t plan to ambush the politicians, but reach out to them, let them know what it’s about and see if they are interested in signing it, which will be documented on a special page on PINAC.
Listen to the clip below from a recent interview I did on a local radio station where I discuss the PINAC Pledge. Click on the second clip below that one to listen to the entire segment, which also features PINAC video producer Taylor Hardy, who was in the studio, and Charlie Grapski, director of PINAC’s Open Records Project, who called in from Central Florida to talk about his public records work with Ferguson. Our interview begins at 7:45.
Click here if you would like to contact Miami-Dade County commissioners who will be voting tonight on whether or not to budget $1 million for 500 body cameras for the Miami-Dade Police Department.