ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The citizens advisory committee for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is expected to discuss the department’s body camera policy during its virtual meeting on Thursday.
Chairman Allie Braswell said members will learn more about the policy and determine if they want to recommend any changes to the sheriff.
“There’s always an opportunity to review the policy and make a recommendation to the sheriff to make further improvements, if necessary,” Braswell said.
Braswell said the committee is taking on this task after a concerned citizen came forward during their last meeting and asked them to look into the policy.
“We want to honor what our citizens are asking for,” he said.
The meeting comes two months after an Orange County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Salaythis Melvin outside the Florida Mall. Investigators said Deputy James Montiel believed Melvin was going to pull a gun from his waistband when he shot the 22-year-old as he was running away.
The sheriff’s office released body camera footage showing other deputies responding, but Montiel was not wearing a camera.
The shooting sparked protests and outrage. Community activist Miles Mulrain said body cameras are necessary to show what happens during law enforcement interactions.
“People hear stuff, they read stuff but it’s not the same as seeing it,” Mulrain said. “So many incidents wouldn’t be elevated if it wasn’t some kind of footage being there, some kind of cellphone, security camera, and of course body cam.”
Braswell added body cameras are critical.
“I think they’re an important piece in being transparent and helping to maintain that check and balance as they go through their investigative process ad being able to review that footage,” Braswell said.
After the Florida Mall shooting, the sheriff said he wanted to review how they release video of deputy shootings. The sheriff’s office said they are currently working on that policy, which is a separate policy from their current body camera policy, which is under review.
Braswell said there is no timeline on how long they will review the policy or if the committee will make any recommendations.