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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2016 2 years ago

Ocoee Police Department to outfit officers with cameras

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The cameras can be worn on sunglasses, a lapel or the center of the officer’s body.
by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

OCOEE Per the approval of the Ocoee City Commission at its May 17 meeting, Ocoee Police Department will proceed with a body-camera pilot program.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for quite a while now,” Deputy Chief Steve McCosker said. “We’ve actually worked with the other agencies in the area to develop a body camera policy. This is a pilot program to … see the benefits.” 

With a purchase of 10 tasers from TASER International, police will receive 10 free body cameras, scheduled for delivery in July.

“Right now, what we’re going to do is start with 10 officers ... and issue them body cameras,” McCosker said. “We have different devices for the mounting of the cameras. They can wear them on the sunglasses or on the lapel or on the center of their body. That’s one of the things we’re piloting — figuring out what is the best configuration for use of the body cameras.”

According to city documents, body-camera recordings are contracted with Evidence.com for five years, with the combined purchase and contract worth $36,844.25. This includes a four-year warranty and a one-year officer safety plan, which can be renewed each year for $11,880. That plan provides camera upgrades every two-and-a-half years and unlimited data storage.

“The software that we’re purchasing, Evidence.com, that is supposed to link up what the officers capture with the actual cases that they were using them for, so we’re going to be verifying that,” McCosker said.

Last year, police officials had requested elected officials help move toward this purchase, but no date is set yet for these cameras to be active in the field, he said. But he does not think it will be long.

“We’ll definitely be watching for the transmitting of requested videos to the state attorney’s office,” McCosker said, alluding to what would help determine Ocoee Police Department’s next steps in the program. “That’s something we’ve heard other agencies have had success with.”

For example, a lawyer could ask on a weekend to look at video pertinent to a case, and Ocoee Police Department’s custodian of records could then allow the state attorney’s office to view it via a secured website — something the department cannot do at the moment, McCosker said. 

ANOTHER SWAT MEMBER
Ocoee Police Department also will add another member to a SWAT team centered in Apopka, with the municipalities of Apopka, Ocoee, Winter Garden, Maitland and Winter Park all contributing.

“This is actually an additional member,” McCosker said. “It was approximately a year ago … we had done a very similar request at that time. We were asking for forfeiture funds to equip up to three members. Because the actual tryouts are so rigorous, we actually had two members that qualified. Since that time, they’ve had an additional tryout, and we’ve had an additional officer complete those tryouts and go through the training. We’re re-asking for the forfeiture funds to supply the special gear that they’re going to need.”

Apopka Police Department has overseen this SWAT entity for years, and Ocoee Police Department was the most recent to join, having done so last year, McCosker said. Members are housed in an on-call facility that Apopka personnel manage and schedule.

“We actually have always said that we would do up to three (members),” he said. “One of our members has resigned from the department, so this will make two. We’ve never had more than two. But we are open to putting three people through. … Some people don’t make it through. Even after that, there’s still a year of probation. I would say approximately two months ago is when our first two officers had passed the probation period and had the SWAT training.”

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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