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St. Pete top cop says agency will get body cams … after working out some kinks

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway now says the department will move forward with plans to implement body cameras … eventually.

“Right now there are a lot of problems with body cameras,” Holloway said in a YouTube video posted on the agency’s Facebook page last week. “Everyone’s trying to come up with the right policy to protect the privacy of the officer and also to protect the privacy of the citizen.”

“If I go into your home and burglary and nothing happens, your neighbor then could ask for a copy of that tape and they can see everything that’s in your home. I don’t feel comfortable with that at this time – who am I giving this to?”

The video statement, obviously edited for time, is reminiscent of Holloway’s previous thoughts on body cameras, though his stance does seem to have loosened a bit.

In a January speech at Suncoast Tiger Bay, Holloway did call the technology inevitable, but favored dash cams on police cruisers instead. During that speech he said body cameras wouldn’t increase trust among citizens.

“How many times was it that everybody watching instant replay saw three different things?” Holloway asked.

The police chief noted several problems with body cameras that have yet to be worked out, including privacy concerns.

In that regard, Holloway’s position doesn’t seem to have evolved all that much, but instead of referring to them in terms of inevitable, which implies implementation far down the road, Holloway now seems to be evaluating the technology for a sooner-rather-than-later approach.

“We’re going to let other agencies do their testing, figure out what policies their writing and then make sure the courts are in agreement with these policies to protect not only the officer’s privacy but the citizen’s privacy and then we’ll move forward,” Holloway said in the most recent video.

Holloway also said the agency needs to evaluate cost.

“The cameras are very cheap,” Holloway said. “But as we start storing all this information – how much is it going to cost? How long are we going to have to store it and then who are we going to give this information to once it is stored?”

Instead of mentioning the viability of dash cams in lieu of body cams, Holloway called them “a great technology” that will “help us out.”

Proponents of body cameras for police officers argue dash cams aren’t enough because they only show what is happening directly in front of the police car and often miss parts of situations that happen out of the camera’s scope.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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