In the back of the Windermere Police Department, eight officers are crammed into a small room.
They are being introduced to their new reality — one where virtually everything they do will be caught on camera.
Every driver they stop.
Every suspect they question.
Any person they may tase or even shoot.
The tiny cameras that rest on their shoulders will catch it all, erasing whatever privacy they might have come to expect in their jobs.
And that is fine by them. All officers in the room said they welcomed the technology.
No more wishing they had visual evidence to make a case.
No more worrying about bogus complaints made by suspects.
And just as important to Chief Dave Ogden: No more suspicion among the public about what really happened when there are questions about an encounter.
"We just want to be transparent," Ogden said. "I really think these guys do a good job. I have confidence in them. And I want citizens to have confidence in us."
Amen, chief. Every department should want the same. And with technology advancing and prices dropping, the excuses are running out.
Three years ago, when I started writing about this topic, dashboard cams were expensive — as much as $5,000 each. And they didn't capture much of what went down away from the cruisers.
So departments had pricey justifications for eschewing cameras.
Nowadays, though, departments can get quality body cams for $800 — a rounding error on the cost of equipping and putting an officer on the street.
And for that amount, we're talking high-caliber cameras with wide-angle lenses and retina technology that capture good images even in low light.
The small town of Windermere equipped all 10 of its patrol officers and sergeants for a total of $9,200 … and has a grant application to reimburse the department for more than $6,000 of that cost.
Storing the footage on a remote server costs $200 a month.
The town expects the cameras to help them save far more than that.
Bogus complaints against officers go down. Cops spend more time on the job — and less time testifying in court. (Prosecutors can give jurors firsthand video instead of secondhand testimony.)