Sarasota to spend $3.6 million on bodycam program

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Sarasota City Commission has agreed to spend more than $3.6 million on 122 body cameras as well as training.

City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said Axon Enterprises will provide the body cameras as well as 179 new tasers with the outfitting to be completed by July 2021.

At the most recent City Commission meeting, the fact that body cameras will require additional staff time in the City attorney’s office was discussed. City Attorney Robert Fournier said Attorney Department staff will have to review recordings before they are released through any public records request.

Fournier said his office could have additional costs between $75,000 and $125,000 in the first year the program is launched. The program will require that the body cameras are worn by all patrol officers during all of their usual enforcement activities including traffic stops, arrests, searches and interactions with the public.

The cameras can either be manually turned on by officers or will automatically turn on if a gunshot is fired.

DiPino told the commission that three individuals will be hired to help train officers and support the program. The move to employ body cameras in the Sarasota Police Department was first discussed in 2018, but City Manager Tom Barwin urged the Commission to forward the process recently due to what he has said is a continuous national conversation about policing and police accountability.

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