As tensions surrounding law enforcement seem to grow around the nation, the Orlando Police Department is planning to equip officers with another line of defense: Body cameras.
The Orlando City Council approved Monday a grant application to help pay for 400 new body cameras. The goal is to eventually equip all officers with the cameras, they expect to have 150 by October.
The grant is for $600,000. In May, Orlando police Chief John Mina said the program would cost nearly $1.7 million in all. The main components of the total cost are storage, software and licensing.
About 50 Orlando police officers currently wear body cameras. The grant would increase that number to 450 over four years.
The vote coincided with a protest against police use of excessive force outside Orlando City Hall. Noel Carter alleges that a police officer kicked him several times during an arrest. Protesters gathered outside Orlando City Hall with the goal being to improve police and community relations.
Chief Mina spoke with the city council and detailed how the ongoing community policing efforts. Chief Mina believes a body camera would have helped in Carter's investigation.
"The body camera would've been able to show the whole interaction from start to finish with audio and the high definition video,"he said.
While Orlando City commissioners questioned Chief Mina about excessive force complaints, the Mayor and Council applauded the work Mina and his department for engaging in community outreach. The police department has held 13 town hall meetings since the incident in Ferguson, Mississippi.
The plan for body cameras came after a 12-month study conducted by the University of South Florida.
"Officers may spend less time in court because once the defense lawyer and the defendant see that video of the defendant or suspect committing that crime, they are more likely to take a plea," Mina explained in May. "That means less time in court, so that could be a benefit."
Mina also discussed how the body cameras would work, saying officers would be able to upload and access video from their laptops, but they will not be able to edit the videos.
Police would also be able to capture video 30 seconds before they activate their cameras.