The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office 2018/19 budget proposal does not include body cameras, despite outcry from some in the community.
The Sheriff’s Office has to spend more money this year to comply with a new state law.
Yolanda Woods is among the community members who have fought for body cameras. Her 21-year-old daughter, Alteria Woods, was shot and killed by crossfire in a March 2017 SWAT raid.
Woods fought back tears remembering the last time she spoke to her daughter.
“She looked at me and smiled and said Mommy I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow, so that was the last time we actually had words. But, unfortunately for me, my tomorrow was a nightmare,” Woods said.
SWAT team members told investigators they opened fire after they say Andrew Coffee IV opened fire on them from inside a home SWAT members were raiding.
An attorney said Coffee IV opened fire because he thought his home was being invaded. However, he is charged with murder after investigators say he used Woods’ body as a shield from the SWAT return fire.
Woods has always questioned if that really happened.
“If they were wearing body cameras that day, I would know and I wouldn’t have any questions or any doubts to what actually happened,” Woods said.
The Sheriff’s Office says there is not enough money to go around this year.
Following the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act, mandated by the state, the sheriff has to spend more money to put law enforcement officers at more schools.
Major Eric Flowers explained, “The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act now requires that all schools be staffed with a law enforcement officer. Overnight, our school resource team grew from one sergeant and eleven deputies to a lieutenant, two sergeants, and twenty five deputies.
This increase was necessary to provide protection for the elementary schools in our county. Any increase in our budget is dedicated to this increased requirement by way of hiring, training, and retaining deputies to fill these new positions.”
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office said it had to prioritize staffing and hiring new deputies.
Woods wants body cameras to become a priority for law enforcement as soon as possible.
“It’s not only for us. It’s also to protect them,” Woods said.