The Fort Pierce City Commission has purchased 100 body cameras, enough they say for the entire agency’s uniformed police officers.
This major purchase comes nearly nine months after Demarcus Semer, 21, was shot and killed by a Fort Pierce police officer in April 2016.
It was a case where there was no body camera or dash camera video of the shooting. A grand jury ultimately determined the officers’ actions were justified.
However, the grand jury did make several recommendations, including that officers wear body cameras.
“It all stems from that incident. I believe it was a motivating factor,” said Fort Pierce Commissioner Reginald Sessions.
Semer’s shooting left the community shattered, however the city is working to change that.
“This is a very important step toward correcting the problems and the relationships with the department and the public,” said Sessions.
The city commission has approved nearly $450,000 to fit its police officers with body cameras. It’s something Sessions has been fighting for from the start.
“We’re now going to guarantee some form of transparency,” said Sessions.
The 100 body cameras will be used as part of a five-year contract.
The cameras have the ability to record video 30 seconds before an officer activates it. The cameras also have an automatic activation if an officer takes their weapon out of their holster.
“I think they'll feel a little safer,” said pastor Ned Childress.
Childress is part of the Lincoln Council of Ministers, a group that helped keep the peace in the wake of the April shooting.
He said this is a major step forward in building back the trust between the community and police.
“I think the people feel at ease right now, and I think it’s going to mend the city. I think people are going to once again trust law enforcement," said Childress.
Representatives with the police department said they are hoping to get the body cameras in use in the next three months. The next step is to finalize the department’s policy for using them.