Some Tampa DUI arrests not caught on camera - WFLA News Channel 8

Some Tampa DUI arrests not caught on camera

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If you're pulled over on a Tampa Bay road, will it be caught on camera?

The arrest of a Tampa attorney earlier this year that drew allegations of a set-up is now drawing attention to the use of dashcams in police vehicles.

In his request to have a special independent counsel investigate the Tampa Police Department's DUI unit, an attorney for the man arrested, Phil Campbell, raised questions about why the DUI supervisor who pulled Campbell over did not have a camera in his police vehicle.

The Tampa Police Department has 770 marked vehicles, 305 of them equipped with cameras, according to TPD.

"All of our DUI officers have dashcams in their cars, no supervisor in the Tampa Police Department has a dashcam in their vehicle and that is strictly a budgetary issue," Chief Jane Castor said at a news conference last week.

The cameras cost about $5,300 each, a TPD spokeswoman said.

While the DUI officers are assigned cars with dashcams, News Channel 8 found some arrests are made without video.

In June, Tampa Police DUI Officer Ferdinand Barbosa testified about a case in which there was no video. Barbosa said he was using a "fleet" vehicle that night in February because his regular car was out of service.

TPD confirmed Barbosa's vehicle was in and out of service from Jan. 4 to March 4.

During that time, Barbosa testified he conducted 40-50 investigations and hundreds of traffic stops that were not recorded.

He made 25 DUI arrests during that time, according to TPD. He testified that four to five of the arrests he made during that time were recorded by other officers.

Asked about Barbosa's situation, TPD spokeswoman Laura McElroy said by email that TPD's policy requires "any officer with a camera, to video tape a DUI arrest."

"Based on the facts we have thus far, Officer Barbosa operated within our policy during this timeframe," McElroy said.

There have been other times when there is no video from an arrest, said Tampa attorney Jason Rogozinski, who represents one of the people arrested during the time Barbosa did not have a camera.

Having the video ultimately helps both sides, he said.

"Video is always the best evidence," he said. "You're actually seeing what's going on."

By comparison, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has 30 dashcams for  its roughly 1,200 marked vehicles. The City of Sarasota has 10 camera systems, but only six are currently operational.

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