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  1. Opinion

The Hillsborough sheriff's right move on body cameras | Editorial

CHRIS URSO   |   Times Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister speaks during a news conference in June.
CHRIS URSO | Times Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister speaks during a news conference in June.
Published Jul. 13, 2019

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister made the right decision by reversing course and deciding to equip his deputies with body cameras. These are essential tools in the modern age for large departments that will instill confidence in his office while protecting the public and deputies alike.

The Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday it is seeking proposals from vendors to provide cameras for about 1,200 deputies. Though the office had resisted the move for years, and while Chronister continued to raise doubts during his campaign for sheriff in 2018, he struck the right tone in announcing a welcome change of heart. This is the right move for a major urban law enforcement agency. In adopting body cameras, Hillsborough will join Miami-Dade police, officers in Tampa and Orlando and deputies in Broward, Orange and Duval counties. An estimated cost won't be available until bid proposals are submitted by July 31.

Body cameras can bring an invaluable perspective to police interactions, offering another set of eyes that can help clarify the facts while also sending the message that officers will be held to the highest standards. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department should get on board.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office is looking to identify potential funding sources. Perhaps it could find a better deale by piggybacking onto Tampa's plan to expand its pilot program with cameras across the entire 974-officer department. Either way, this should be a budget priority for the county, even if Hillsborough has to phase-in the body cameras over a short period of time.

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