Daytona Beach police among first agencies to use livestreaming body cameras

Department uses live streaming to check on officers, calls for service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Daytona Beach Police Department is among the first law enforcement agencies in Florida to have body-worn cameras capable of livestreaming.

The department gained the capability when it upgraded its body camera system a year ago. Nearly all 225 officers now have cameras with livestreaming capability.

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Officer Monica Lee, body camera program supervisor at the department, said all new cameras can stream live back to police headquarters when they are recording.

An officer must start the recording when the officer is dispatched to a call, per department policy. Or, cameras begin recording automatically when a gun or taser is drawn.

Lee said supervisors will look in on the livestream when they haven’t heard from the officer.

“You’ll have 101 things you’re focused on,” Lee said. “You get on scene, you’re assisting the victim, worried about the safety of others, then if you have to draw your gun, you’re focus on that as well. Then you have a supervisor asking, ‘Is everything OK over there?’”

Lee said it happened to her recently. She was dispatched to a late-night street party reported to be out of control. She said the scene was so chaotic when she arrived that she didn’t have a chance to update her supervisor, so the supervisor accessed her live stream to check on her.

“When I stopped keying up [the police radio], he [the supervisor] called me and I didn’t answer on my radio,” Lee said. “He then livestreamed into my camera to make sure I was OK. And that’s the purpose for live streaming - supervisors can have eyes on the situation even though they’re not on the scene yet.”

At Daytona Beach police headquarters, Lee showed News 6 a livestream from an officer visiting business owners in the downtown Daytona Beach area.

“Supervisors can livestream when they [officers] are on calls so they can see how they’re interacting with the community, and what tone they’re using, and if they’re respecting them,” Lee said.

Lee said supervisors also get alerts when an officer draws a weapon. That would be another reason to look at a livestream.

“Supervisors who have the capability view the livestream, they absolutely love it,” Lee said. “They love that they can have eyes on the situation before getting on scene.”

Supervisors can view the livestream on a computer or a mobile device.

When Lee first received the new cameras, she switched off the capability to livestream all the time. The department said the streaming should not invade officers’ privacy.

Lee said Daytona was due for a body camera upgrade last year. Upgrading all cameras and hardware cost the department around $500,000.

It was the latest technology upgrade for the department that claims it was first in Florida to get body cameras more than a decade ago.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.