Miami-Dade: Body cameras won’t stop shootings, deaths

Ladra loves police body cameras. I mean, what’s not to like?

We have the technology to capture the cops interacting body cameras policewith victims and culprits and it gives us a glimpse into both how hard their job is and how some of them may abuse their role. It serves as a deterrent to both the officer, who might now count to ten, and the mouthy drunk that might not want to be on the late night news getting into it with a cop. There’s no reason not to use them if you can. Body cams are a good thing — when used properly and the video is stored in such a way that it is accessible to whoever wants it.

Heck, I wish we could put them on everybody. Firefighters. Meter readers. Procurement officers. Electeds. In fact, can someone please sponsor an ordinance where a lobbyist has to put one on as she or he enters County Hall? Commissioner Levine Cava?

But at $1 million a year one has to wonder if this is a police priority our budget can afford. Especially right now, when we have shootings almost every other day and another child killed about every week on our streets.

Body cameras won’t stop the shootings. They make for good headlines, however. Miami-Dade is now the largest department nationwide to use body cameras. It makes us look good. But only on the surface.

Read related story: Body cams are swell — but put one on the mayor, too

Miami-Dade Commissioners, at the direction of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, voted last week to spend more than body cameras for cops$1 million a year on body cameras for our police officers for an approved total of $5.4 million over the next five years. This is mostly for storage and maintenance since the cameras themselves aren’t that expensive. At $300 a pop (which is high, because the county ought to be getting a bulk rate), the 1,500 cameras would cost $450,000. So that’s $4.5 million or so for storage and maintenance? Doesn’t that seem high?

What did commissioners do about the crime that is creeping into our neighborhoods and the shootings that have become commonplace? How much went to increased patrols or a special task force to focus on this youth gun crime? Absolutely nada.

Oh, sure, there is talk about mentoring programs and that’s as good as body cameras — it won’t stop the bleeding going on now. Especially since the Florida legislature just passed a law that requires the department to have a policy before it implements the program.

Read related story: Politicos want to shield body cam footage from us

Only one thing will put a stop to the violence that is not just limited to Liberty City and Miami Gardens. There was a shooting the other day at The Falls, fam. The freaking Falls!

We need more police on the street. We need more experienced police to stay in the department. We need specialized units like the gang unit and the robbery intervention detail to be restored so that they can stop these things from happening.

And we need a mayor who will recognize that he made a mistake in 2014 when he dismantled all the specialized units, a mayor who will acknowledge that, yes, there has been a spike in violent crime and a mayor who will take responsibility for it and make real changes that do make a difference in addressing the needs we have right now.