A new Florida law governing the use of body camera by law enforcement agencies has gone into effect after being signed off by Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday, March 24. The law requires police departments to establish guidelines for the training of officers and use of the devices, as well as the retention of recorded videos.
However, the law falls short of mandating municipalities to arm their officers with body cameras. Instead, it calls for a set of policies and procedures if such a program is in place.
The law states that police departments must “ensure that all personnel who wear, use, maintain, or store body cameras are trained in the law enforcement agency’s policies and procedures concerning them,” “retain audio and video data recorded by body cameras in accordance with the requirements of s. 119.021, except as otherwise provided by law” and “perform a periodic review of actual agency body camera practices to ensure conformity with the agency’s policies and procedures.”
The law gained momentum after an officer from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department shot and killed 31-year-old Corey Jones. The department had no program in place for body cameras. Then, in January, the City Council unanimously voted to fund the equipment – a $262,296 budget appropriation to ensure every patrolling officer wears a body cam.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office and the City of Madison Police Department patrol officers all wear body cams in order to comply with this law.