By: Jen Russon
Chief Clyde Parry has always supported a non-lethal solution whenever possible.
The city made that objective easier by approving a contract for upgraded tasers and body cameras that documents what CSPD does while on duty.
“The new body cameras will provide another layer of transparency, allowing the public to see the fantastic work being done by our officers, as well as some of the difficult situations and challenges they face in the performance of their duties,” said Parry.
He added the $1,765,605 price tag was still a prudent decision for CSPD, based on feedback gathered throughout the years from the State Attorney Office.
After the city commission voted to approve them, 150 body cameras will be issued as well as 235 tasers, or “stun guns,” awarded as part of a five-year contract paid for using a combination of forfeiture, or LETF, and budgeted funds as well as a $300,000 federal grant.
The decision had been a long time coming.
Back in 2016, Coral Springs Police first began testing the technology and then continued evaluating the cameras in the field last month.
They were attempting to set in motion what many cities in the county had already begun.
Now commonplace in Broward, Coral Springs joins over a dozen municipalities, including Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Hallandale Beach using the cameras.
The decision to move forward was motivated by high profile police incidents, such as the shootings deaths of African American civilians occurring across the United States.
Vice Mayor Joy Carter remarked how exhaustive the commission board’s research and the process was in considering the pros and cons of body cameras.
“We had been going back and forth for five years. It surprised me how technology is utilized by law enforcement. Although it is a significant purchase, public safety in our community is paramount,” said Carter.
The police department has done their homework too.
Initially evaluated in DUI incidents, the body cameras will now record all police encounters, with some exemptions given to Chapter 934 wiretapping and privacy laws.
Deputy Chief Brad McKeone laid out the projected cost of the body cams and tasers at a November city commission meeting. The competitive procurement process was waived, and the contract from Axon, a corporation based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, was awarded.
According to Axon’s data, deaths are rare when tasers are correctly used.
Guidelines by the Police Executive Research Forum state that “exposure longer than 15 seconds to a taser, increases the risk of serious injury or death”.
Axon also reports their body cameras provide enhanced low-light performance, reduced motion blur, and an LTE connection that enables real-time features like live-streaming.
McKeone added any time new equipment is purchased and utilized; police officers will require training.
“This training will be done by department members as well as staff from the vendor. It will be done in such a way that it does not adversely impact the level of service to the residents of Coral Springs,” said McKeone.
While the officers believe body cameras and tasers benefit the law enforcement who use them, not everyone on the commission agreed.
Larry Vignola has voted no on body cameras and tasers for Coral Springs police the two times it appeared on the agenda. The other four members voted yes.
The contract with Axon is valid through November 12, 2024.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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