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More Body Cameras Coming To New Port Richey Police Department

A New Port Richey police officer talks with counterprotesters at a recent Black Lives Matter demonstration downtown. He was stopping them from following activists as they marched down the block.
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
A New Port Richey police officer talks with counterprotesters at a recent Black Lives Matter demonstration downtown. He was stopping them from following activists as they marched down the block.

The desire for more body cameras is one of the few things law enforcement, city leaders and Black Lives Matter activists agree on.

More New Port Richey police officers will be wearing body cameras in the near future. The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to purchase dozens of cameras for the department.

This comes after months of protests in the city against racism and police violence.

Activists with Black Lives Matter Pasco County have made expanding use of body cameras one of their top demands as they've led frequent demonstrations and engaged with city leaders.

“There are only seven body cams in the whole department, seven,” said organizer Marlowe Jones at a protest in downtown New Port Richey last Friday evening.

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Pics/BLM_protest_colombini.jpg

During Tuesday’s council meeting, New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe said the desire for more cameras is one of the few things elected officials, the police and protesters all agree on. He said funding for them has been included in plans for the new budget since the spring.

"It protects the public, but it also protects the police officers," he said.

Police Chief Kim Bogart said this is something he's wanted for his department for a long time. He said the cameras help hold officers who abuse their power accountable and protect others from false accusations.

"Often times people will be so upset when they're having contact with law enforcement that they don't perceive things clearly and their recollections after are less accurate,” he said. “And I can't say that doesn't go both ways because I think it does."

Bogart and the City Council have been meeting with protest organizers to discuss plans for change but there's still a long way to go. Ahead of the body cameras vote, the mayor had security escort Jones from the meeting because he continued talking past his allotted time for public comment.