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Plant City slammed for okaying armored police vehicle, not body cameras

  • PLANT CITY — Police in Plant City found the funds to buy a $335,000 armored security vehicle but they don’t think it’s worth their money to equip officers with body cameras.
  • These choices, coming on the heels of an unarmed man’s fatal shooting by Plant City police, have drawn criticism that came to a head last week when members of the advocacy group Restorative Justice Coalition were removed from a city commission meeting.
  • Under its previous police chief, Plant City had a body camera pilot program, as well as dash cameras, but the department has moved away from them.
  • Police spokesman Sgt. Alfred Van Duyne said in July that the cameras and their storage systems are expensive to buy and maintain — an unnecessary investment and a “knee-jerk reaction,” he said, to heightened tensions between police and communities nationwide.
  • After the budget’s approval, members of the Restorative Justice Coalition began chanting and were removed from City Hall.

PLANT CITY — Police in Plant City found the funds to buy a $335,000 armored security vehicle but they don’t think it’s worth their money to equip officers with body cameras.

PLANT CITY — Police in Plant City found the funds to buy a $335,000 armored security vehicle but they don’t think it’s worth their money to equip officers with body cameras.

These choices, coming on the heels of an unarmed man’s fatal shooting by Plant City police, have drawn criticism that came to a head last week when members of the advocacy group Restorative Justice Coalition were removed from a city commission meeting.

The confrontation arose after a public hearing Sept. 25 on the annual city budget.

“Your community asked you for accountability. We asked you for transparency,” Justin Garcia of Plant City said during the hearing. “We asked you for funding for body and dash cameras and what did you do? You ask for an armored vehicle.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Plant City officers cleared in fatal shooting of unarmed man

The State Attorney’s Office found that two officers were justified in the shooting death of 35-year-old Jesus Cervantes because he came at one of them in a “shooting stance,” with a glass pipe and a rolled-up shirt in his hands.

The shooting followed a July 6 car chase and crash. Cervantes , a married father of four, was found to have had methamphetamine in his system.

Many law enforcement agencies are turning to body cameras, in part, as a way to provide accurate versions of encounters between officers and the public. Under its previous police…

Plant City slammed for okaying armored police vehicle, not body cameras