Concerns about police brutality have led to a number of corrective changes around the nation, which are designed to increase accountability for officers and safety for members of the public.
Local news for Tampa published an article regarding the implementation of body cameras on officers in the area, and how this can possibly prevent police misconduct and violence in the future.
Tampa applies for body camera funding after officers are terminated for improperly handling evidence
Tampa is competing for a federal grant from the Justice Department that would provide several hundred thousand dollars to equip police officers with body cameras. Local officials have already pledged an amount equal to the grant to extend the program and standardize camera use throughout the metro area. As of the time of the article, only about ten percent of officers working in the city actually wear the cameras.
Body cameras are often credited as an important tool to detect police brutality and charge the offending officers with crimes, as well as exonerate officers who legitimately have to make difficult decisions, such as resorting to violence. There have been national stories about officers who shot unarmed suspects or planted evidence and were only caught because of their body cameras. Many citizens’ advocate groups also point out that widespread surveillance of the general public is now so common, that it is foolish to exempt police officers from this kind of oversight and intrusion into their job duties.
Tampa has had its own recent issues with police misbehavior. The chief of the department had to fire multiple officers for not handling drug evidence properly. One of those incidents included a situation where a local officer switched off his body camera during part of an encounter with a suspect.
Dashboard cameras in police vehicles have yet to be implemented across the board in Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg. Local departments have also reported technical problems with the equipment that caused delays. There are also nationwide issues with video evidence that remain unresolved, such as storing the data from the cameras for public record and re-training officers about when they are allowed to turn the cameras on and off. However, most people agree that having this kind of objective evidence available is a huge asset for the community.
Why video evidence is so crucial
If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against a police department, video evidence is crucial to prove that officers violated their use of force protocols or engaged in some other kind of inappropriate behavior. However, this is not a perfect solution, as departments often tend to make incriminating evidence of misconduct disappear.
A case against the police becomes much more tangible for a jury when video evidence is available. This can help a plaintiff win hundreds or thousands of dollars related to their injuries and lost time with the help of an attorney who specializes in cases against the police.
Talk to an attorney who can sue the police in the Tampa area
If you have been harmed by any kind of police mistreatment near the city of Tampa or surrounding parts of the Gulf Coast of Florida, contact Larson Johnson Trial Attorneys. They will provide information about the possibility of suing the department and other remedies.