- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Police in Sarasota, Florida, will begin wearing body-mounted cameras later this year in an effort to increase accountability among officers and residents.

The Sarasota City Commission voted unanimously Monday to accept a U.S. Department of Justice grant providing $36,645 in initial funding for the cameras, Watchdog.org reported.

Wearable cameras are of heightened national interest in the wake of the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, which has sparked ongoing unrest between officers and residents in Ferguson, Missouri.

“It’s a modern and professional use of technology to modify people’s behaviors, both the police officer and the citizen,” Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said in an email, Watchdog.org reported.

“These cameras will give a look from a police officer’s perspective and we will be able to capture information and it will be able to help us with training, it will help us make sure our police officers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and also make sure the citizens’ actions are captured to help for use in evidence later,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, have supported the use of body-mounted cameras for police and argue it could help combat police brutality.

A petition drive on the White House website created in response to the Michael Brown shooting asks for law enforcement to don wearable cameras.

The petition for a “Michael Brown Law” had received nearly 130,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon, far exceeding the 100,000 needed to receive a White House reply.

Chief DiPino insisted, however, that Sarasota’s plan is not in response to the violence in Ferguson. The issue was first raised in January, she told Watchdog.

The department will join Daytona Beach, Sanford and Windermere as the only police departments in Florida to use body-mounted cameras, the website reported.

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