Some large South Florida police departments still don’t use body cameras

(WSVN) - Police body cameras capture the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there are still South Florida police departments that do not use them. 7’s Brian Entin looks into the agencies refusing to roll.

From tough takedowns to rough arrests, body cameras have opened a window into policing for all to see.

The videos can show police under attack, but sometimes it’s the officers caught crossing the line.

Doral Police body camera video/May 2019 — Craig Nembhard: “I didn’t run you over!”

Last May, Craig Nembhard was pulled over at this gas station in Doral. Body cameras rolled as he was slammed on the ground.

Doral Police body camera video/May 2019 — Craig Nembhard: “Ahhh, my leg is broke!”

Police said he was trying to hit them with his car, but the video showed something different.

Craig Nembhard: “Who knows what would have happened if the body camera wasn’t there? But I’m glad it was there.”

But 7News discovered not all police departments in South Florida have body cameras.

In Miami-Dade County, the largest departments — Miami-Dade, Miami and Miami Beach Police — all use body cameras. Miami Gardens and North Miami also have them.

But the fourth largest department in the county, Hialeah Police, does not have cameras.

Brian Entin: Hi, Chief. Brian Entin from 7News.

Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez: “I have a meeting.”

Brian Entin: “I emailed you earlier, sir. We’re trying to find out why Hialeah does not have body cameras.”

We wanted to talk to Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez before a city council meeting, but he kept walking.

Brian Entin: “It seems like a simple question, sir.”

Proponents of body cameras say the technology can help rebuild public trust.

Jack Dale, Former BSO Colonel: “It would be desirable, if you’re looking to increase transparency, to have body cameras.”

Jack Dale is a former Broward Sheriff’s Office colonel. He and implemented the body camera program at the massive agency.

Jack Dale: “The advantages to body cameras, I think, are just too compelling, and given the amount of video out there already, I see no reason, if the department can fund it, not to have them. The mindset is that you’re being videotaped whether you have a body camera on or not.”

That’s a lesson some South Florida officers have learned the hard way.

A home surveillance camera recorded a Hollywood cop hitting a handcuffed man in the face, and a different Hollywood officer was caught on camera kicking a handcuffed man in the head.

Hollywood Police is the largest department in Broward County that still does not have body cameras, but that could soon be changing.

The assistant Hollywood Police chief tells 7News they are testing body cameras now, but won’t make a decision about whether to roll them out for a few months.

Across Broward, larger departments have cameras: BSO, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Miramar and Sunrise. And just this month, Coral Springs got them, too.

But, like Hollywood, Davie and Plantation do not have body cameras.

Craig Nembhard: “I think it should be mandatory for every department in the country, because I just don’t see what’s the downside of having it. It’s good for both sides.”

David Kubiliun, attorney: “It could benefit the officer, or it could benefit the defendant. It could go either way. And it’s clear that a bodycam shows complete transparency.”

In Craig’s case, it was the body camera video that exposed police misconduct and got the charges against him dropped.

Davie Police Department Statement:
“The Davie Police Department is currently evaluating body worn cameras. All of our electronic controls devices (Taser) are equipped with cameras that are activated when the device is turned on.”

Plantation Police Department Statement:
“Our department continues to monitor the BWC programs.”

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