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Indian River County Sheriff's budget approved, body cameras not included

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 04:06:58-04
Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar went before his county leaders Wednesday to ask for more money, but that's not what has some people upset. 
It's no secret there has been a big community push for body cameras, specifically in Gifford where a SWAT raid accidentally killed Alteria Woods in March. Still, it was also known that Sheriff Loar was not adding body camas to his budget this year. He has a different priority. 
Originally, Sheriff Loar was asking for 49.9 million dollars to include 30 hires, 17 of those would be deputies on the street. He had agreed to reduce his budget by nearly 1.5 million and only have 10 new deputies on the street. 
Body cameras were not even brought up in the commission chambers, until public comment. 
Sheriff Loar refused to engage in a discussion with activist Michael Marsh who has been pushing hard for transparency after Woods' death. 
"We know a lawsuit will stem from the murder of Alteria Woods, but you know something, Ms. Woods would have known what took place on March 19 had we had these body cameras," said Marsh.
The budget will also include more equipment including two machine guns totaling $4,000, going to officers in booking at the jail. 
"When we want machine guns in booking over body cameras in the streets, someone should scratch their head and say what? Machine guns?" said Marsh. 
The county commissioners explained to Marsh they do not micro-manage the sheriff's budget, just approve the total dollar amount. 
Sheriff Loar said his decision to hold off on body cameras was so that he could put more deputies on the street.
"Fact is body cameras do not commit crimes. Body cameras may record crimes. Human beings, deputy sheriffs in green and white patrol cars prevent crimes," said Sheriff Loar. 
The sheriff believes body cameras could come up again next year, but said this year he is understaffed. 
"I'm certain that the initial cost of body cameras will come down. I think the Florida legislature has already signaled that's the direction where they're going. We prefer to have men on the street, women in the street versus body cameras at this time," added the sheriff. 
Right now state law does not force police agencies to use body cameras. Many activists are hopeful legislators will push for a mandate.