St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway would consider putting cameras on his officers if he could purchase ones that were mounted on officers’ guns. That way, video would start anytime an officer unholstered his/her weapon.
“If I pull my weapon than it’s recorded and you’ll see everything that happened,” Holloway said during a City Council update Monday afternoon. “That solves the privacy issues.”
Holloway was referring to his stance on body cameras in which he frequently sites concerns that victims’ privacy rights could be violated. One of his oft-sited examples was that an officer tending to a victim’s home following a crime could conceivably lead to video of that person’s home being captured and subject to public record.
But, even without the gun-mounted cameras, Holloway said the agency expects a white paper to be released next year evaluating the usefulness of body cameras and the agency will look into the issue further. That White Paper is expected sometime in August.
Holloway was speaking to council as part of a quarterly report. He boasted several wins for the police agency including community crime tips from the community being on the rise, the success of the Park, Walk, Talk program and absence of crime being found as a result of cameras being on the Pinellas trail.
But council member Karl Nurse expressed concerns about the numbers of officers on the street staying stagnant. City Council approved the 2016 fiscal year budget including an increase to the police department to pay for a reserve unit.
Holloway explained it takes time for new hires to actually hit the streets, especially if they come in untrained and have to go through the police academy. He said the agency just hired 18 new officers, but residents won’t actually see them on the streets until August.
“For the next three years we’re going to be busy hiring a lot of people,” Holloway said noting there are a large number of officers about ready to retire. “When we hire them with no skill it’s 8 months before we see them.”