NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – At the start of her shift, Nassau County Deputy Brandy Turman now turns on the camera that she wears on her chest.
“I have actually enjoyed the body cameras. It gives us a new perspective. It gives us a new tool to work with,” Turman said.
Turman and some of her fellow deputies have been testing out the cameras for the past month. By the end of January, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper says, 140 deputies will be wearing body cameras.
“It’s a good thing because it shows the good things that deputies and officers do all the time that is never seen, that’s never captured. So when good things happen, we can show the public, hey, we did good. But if they did something bad then, naturally, we’re not hiding from it,” Leeper said.
During a significant event, like a police-involved shooting, the deputy can dock the footage in their patrol car once the scene is cleared. They will immediately put on a second camera, so they are always recording.
Sheriff Leeper discussed how the agency plans to release the video to the public.
“We worked on a policy for that and we’re going to work with the State Attorney’s Office. Depending on if any criminal activity is taking place, make sure that we’re not releasing things that would interfere with the investigation or the prosecution. We’ll release them as soon as we can and as soon as we think it’s feasible to do that,” said Leeper.
Deputy Turman believes more transparency will benefit the community.
“I think they’ll really like it. It’ll show that we do our jobs to the best of our abilities, and they’ll see what we deal with, and they’ll like it,” said Turman.
Sheriff Leeper said the body cameras cost just under $450,000. He said the funding comes from seizure assets from criminals.
In 2013, the Sheriff’s Office and a couple of other agencies did a seizure with the IRS where they received more than a million dollars, according to Leeper. He said the agency hired another person in the records department to help with public records requests for the footage.