FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – As more police departments and sheriff’s offices upgrade their body cameras to include livestreaming capabilities, more officers and deputies are using that feature regularly, even daily.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said his deputies on the streets are now asking for supervisors to turn on the livestream and follow along on a call for service live as they respond.
Just last month, a Flagler County deputy faced a man on a rural road holding a rifle.
She ordered the man to drop the rifle but instead he fired a shot into the air.
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The deputy’s mission at that moment was the same as it is every moment: Protect the people nearby and protect herself. To do that, she could not waiver, she couldn’t even take her hands off her own rifle to call for backup. So she called out to the RTCC, the Real Time Crime Center inside Flagler County Sheriff’s Office headquarters, to look in live.
Commander Joe Barile oversees the RTCC, a command and control room outfitted with TV monitors, radios and computers. Crime analysts use the camera feeds from all over the county to gain eyes on a situation. At the same time, they’ll dig on social media and the internet to learn about a suspect and relay that information to responding officers.
Barile said the deputy responding to the man with the rifle counted on the RTCC to be her eyes and ears at a time when she could not shift her attention or fingers to her radio.
“She knows we can hear her and now she asks to go on live and the body camera will alert her when we go in live,” Barile said. “When she sees that, she’s able to narrate what’s going on and we can put that over the radio for her.”
Barile, watching live, directed the response from the RTCC.
“Now with us being able to go into the body camera video, that deputy can concentrate on the threat in front of them, keep two hands on a rifle and we can relay what’s going on to the responding deputies,” Barile said.
Nikki North, a former crime analyst, now supervises the analysts.
“In the meantime, in the background of all of this, our patrol officers are going Code 3, lights and sirens full speed ahead to try and get to her knowing what’s going on,” North said.
North said it’s now happening several times a day. Deputies on the street are asking the RTCC to go live with them as they respond to calls, representing a change in mindset.
“People are realizing we can be an extra set of eyes,” North said. “We’re here to help them.”
Staly said livestreaming enables deputies to respond faster and better mitigate a threat.
“So all of this technology helps us solve that immediate situation and protect the community,” Staly said. “You have a bad guy with a rifle who could have tried to do a carjacking.”
Staly said he is aware of privacy concerns regarding livestreaming and has put a policy in place for urgent situations where Barile can automatically turn it on if someone is resisting arrest or fleeing. Otherwise, deputies turn on the livestream feature on their own.
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