ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Police Department on Wednesday completed its first and most comprehensive phase of body worn camera deployment, equipping all of its 435 patrol officers with body cameras, a spokesperson for the department said.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he believes the use of the body cameras will improve the relationship between the community and his officers.
“We believe the use of body cameras will strengthen community trust, improve accountability and transparency, protect our officers from false complaints and provide valuable evidence for prosecutors," Mina said.
With the announcement of the completed phase, the department released a video that included recent situations where body cameras were useful.
About 10 seconds into the video, body camera footage recorded during a fire at an apartment Nov. 18 showed officers banging on residents' doors to notify them of the flames.
The officers repeatedly knock without any response before they decide to kick the door in, wake the family and children inside and escort them from their homes.
Another incident, which can be seen about one minute and 45 seconds into the video, shows an officer responding to an incident where a man was accused of firing a gun in the air near Randal Park Boulevard and Dowden Road.
Officers said that when police arrived, a vehicle was stopped on Dowden Road with its hazard lights on and trunk partially open.
Police said witnesses told them that was the vehicle and that the man had a gun.
Officers grabbed their weapons and asked the driver to show his hands and get out of the vehicle, police said.
Police said after the man pointed a gun at an officer through the windshield, negotiators worked for two hours to talk the man into surrendering.
The video shows officers' continued efforts to talk to the suspect until SWAT team members deploy chemical agents to the refusing suspect to take him into custody, police said.
Body camera footage from two other incidents are included in the video, including an incident where an officer pulls a woman over who he said was driving recklessly and asked her if she was going through some sort of medical crisis.
The woman told the officer she had been suffering from a medical crisis and, after he asked, she told him that she had thoughts about hurting herself or others, the video showed.
In the video, you can hear the officer mention a possible Baker Act while speaking into his walkie-talkie.
“Yeah, that’s all. That’s all you guys know how to do is make arrests. That’s all you’ve ever done," the woman said to the officer.
The officer told the woman he wanted her to sit and talk to him a bit more before she put out her hands and asked the officer if he needed to handcuff her.
"I don't know. Do I?" he said.
The woman told the officer she didn't want anyone's help.
The officer responded by telling the woman she was driving so recklessly that she should be put in jail, but that he wasn't going to give her a ticket because she was suffering from a medical crisis and he wanted her to get the help she needed.
"Why are you being so nice to me?" the woman asked the officer.
The officer told the woman that's what they (police) do, and because he wanted her to get help that he wasn't qualified to give her.
"Well, you're doing a good job," the woman said.
"I'm no different than you," the officer said in the video. "We're all one situation away from basically needing a little bit of help."