PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Within the last two years, several police departments in our area have invested in body cameras.
In some cases, like in Fort Pierce and Palm Beach Gardens, the move came on the heels of a deadly officer involved shooting.
However, a new study is raising questions about whether those cameras are really making a difference.
It’s been only a few months since the Fort Pierce Police Department has had its new body camera program in full use.
The cameras were partly fueled by the death of Demarcus Semer, the 21-year-old shot and killed at the hands of two Fort Pierce Police officers in 2016.
“There was so many different issues and complaints, in order to protect both sides police and citizens, what better way to do it than put a record in place,” said Fort Pierce City Commissioner Reginald Sessions, who advocated for the cameras.
However, a new study of the Washington DC Police Department determined that the body cams there have not had an impact on use of force cases involving officers or the number of citizens complaints.
“Every community is different, so what they experienced in a another city may not be the same as what we get,” said Ed Cunningham, spokesperson for the Fort Pierce Police Department.
Cunningham admits that their program is too new to have actual statistics, but he says the officers have already seen positive changes, especially when it comes to citizen complaints.
“When they heard we have the situation captured on body camera, they decided they didn't want to complain anymore."
He also points out that there are other benefits that this study may not have focused on, including the training value and even how they gather evidence.
“It’s working well for us. So far this is a good thing."