Communication Builds Our Community

City Commission Approves Full Implementation of Police Body Cameras

With no discussion or public comment the Lake Wales City Commission May 4 approved spending $110,350 for the first year implementation of police worn body cameras for all officers who interact with the public.

The Lake Wales Police Department will be the first law enforcement agency in Polk County to implement a body camera program.

After reviewing the city's finances six months into the new budget year, City Manager James Slaton said without dipping into reserves the city could afford the full implementation, which would include purchase of a total of 32 cameras, equipment, software, licensing, cloud storage and a staff person to manage the video evidence. The commission on Feb. 16 approved a pilot program to purchase eight police worn body cameras.

Police Chief Chris Velasquez says he wants the cameras to come on automatically when police vehicle lights are turned on or when a firearm is take from its holster. He said implementation will require special training and practice so officers automatically turn them on whenever they are interacting with the public.

Training begins May 27, and Velasquez said the program should be fully operational sometime this summer. The city will need to coordinate with the state attorney's office and develop policies and procedures and some guidelines that protect privacy when officers are inside someone's home.

 

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