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Pinellas commissioners approve body cams for all deputies

The program to outfit 875 deputies with cameras, which Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced last October, is formally moving forward.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri speaks at a Pinellas County Commission meeting last March. On Tuesday, commissioners approved a plan to outfit Gualtieri's roughly 875 deputies with body-worn cameras.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri speaks at a Pinellas County Commission meeting last March. On Tuesday, commissioners approved a plan to outfit Gualtieri's roughly 875 deputies with body-worn cameras. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jan. 26

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s plan for all deputies to be outfitted with body-worn cameras is officially moving forward, as county commissioners on Tuesday approved spending millions to fund the program.

Gualtieri announced his intentions to implement body cameras in October, and a pilot program involving 30 deputies began the same month. He’d been hesitant about the cameras for years, even as other agencies across the country adopted them, he said, because he felt the technology wasn’t up to snuff.

Related: Body cams coming to Pinellas Sheriff's Office

But by last year, Gualtieri said in October, he’d heard from a broad cross-section of constituents who wanted deputies to wear body cameras, and he was more impressed by the available technology than he’d previously been. The agency has for years equipped its patrol cruisers with dashboard cameras.

Tuesday’s approval was no surprise, as several county commissioners voiced support for the program when Gualtieri made the October announcement. According to documents from Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, the program is expected to cost nearly $25 million over the next six years, and about 875 deputies will wear the cameras.

Several other agencies — including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa — also announced last year that they’d invest in body cameras.