Ask Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters what he thinks about police body cameras, and he’ll tell you the city needs to find a way to get them now.
Riviera Beach, after all, is an international city, and he’s worried about terrorism. While it may seem an unlikely target, Masters points out the city has the Port of Palm Beach, Ocean Mall, the John F. Kennedy Bunker, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection station and a marina.
“It’s better to be cautious and be preventive and preemptive rather than to react,” Masters said last week. “I’m saying we need them now.”
Masters, who went with a group of elected officials and clergy in November to press members of Congress and the Department of Justice to provide money for body cameras nationwide, said Riviera Beach can’t wait for the money for body cameras to come from somewhere else.
His comments came before a 30-year-old man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group on Thursday ambushed a Philadelphia police officer sitting in his marked cruiser at an intersection. The Associated Press reported the man wounded the officer, firing more than a dozen shots at point-blank range.
Masters said it’s his goal for every police officer in Riviera Beach to have body cameras.
“It’s good for police, and it’s good for citizens, because the body camera tells the story,” he said. “The body cam can show and tell us exactly what happened.”
Palm Beach Gardens City Council members voted last week to set aside $262,296 to purchase about 100 body cameras and have the program fully implemented by this summer. The fatal shooting of Corey Jones, a 31-year-old drummer and housing inspector, in October by police officer Nouman Raja prompted public calls for police body cameras and other changes.
Police Chief Stephen Stepp detailed changes at Thursday night’s meeting.