WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said the wait is over; body cameras are on their way to the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office is one of the last, and also the largest, law enforcement agency in Palm Beach County to equip their deputies with body cameras.
In an exclusive interview with WPTV, Bradshaw said deputies will begin wearing body cameras by the end of February.
"It been a long process," he said. "We've been doing this, it's been going on for 2 1/2 to three years."
Bradshaw said the cameras will have livestreaming capabilities.
"These cameras will be the best around, and they're going to do something most cameras don't do," Bradshaw said. "We wanted to have our cameras capable of live-time streaming. So, if something's not going the way it should, the supervisors out there are watching it in real-time, and they can say, 'Time out, everybody hold what they're doing. We're going to do something different.'"
Fifteen out of 21 law enforcement agencies in Palm Beach County are equipped with body cameras, according to the latest report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Patrick Franklin, the president of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, emphasized the importance of body-worn cameras.
"We can see total transparency in the interaction between officers and residents throughout Palm Beach County," Franklin said. "Cameras are something that is going to tell the complete story."
Bradshaw said negotiations and contracts took years to finalize.
"We're not afraid of cameras, but I didn't have an extra $20 million hanging around," Bradshaw said.
The Palm Beach County Commission approved the sheriff's office budget in September 2022. The sheriff then allocated more than $20 million toward body cameras and the technology needed to run them.
"The hardware itself is not the big expense. It's the dash cams because the ones we have now are not compatible," Bradshaw said. "We have to have the storage space on the computers. We have to have a unit that's going to monitor what's going on every day."
Bradshaw said although it took some time, he's glad they held out for a camera with livestreaming capabilities.
"This is not how fast you do it, it's how right you do it. Because we don't want to do it twice," Bradshaw said. "But we have to have that component because I'm a big proponent of trying to stop things before it happens. I don't want to see something after the fact. If I've got a chance to change it, and make it right while it’s happening, that's a huge piece of the puzzle."
All uniformed personals will be wearing a body camera, which supervisors will be able to tune into at any point in the day through their "Fusion Center," according to Bradshaw.
The sheriff said they will roll out the cameras in districts starting at the end of February. He said it will take a few months to install dash cameras and body cameras on all deputies.
Each deputy will go through about an eight-hour training session, according to Bradshaw, before wearing the body cameras. He said the training will primarily consist of how and when to turn the camera on and off.