North Miami - NMB

Body camera program coming to North Miami police department

Police Chief Gary Eugene of North Miami gives remarks regarding the shooting of an unarmed man in the city of North Miami.
Police Chief Gary Eugene of North Miami gives remarks regarding the shooting of an unarmed man in the city of North Miami.

A cellphone video broadcast last year’s shooting of Charles Kinsey by a North Miami police officer to a national audience and heightened scrutiny of the city and police department.

The city is now adding a body-worn camera program that advocates and residents hope will help hold police accountable.

Council members approved a $533,000 contract with Point Blank Enterprises to provide the cameras and video management system for the police department. The five-year contract includes a six-month trial period.

“This is something that we’ve been talking about on the dais for quite a while. It’s a program that is welcome to our city,” Mayor Smith Joseph said.

The item passed with a 3-1 vote as Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime voted no. Joseph, Vice Mayor Scott Galvin and Councilwoman Carol Keys voted in favor of the item. Councilman Alix Desulme was absent.

North Miami’s 2017 budget included about $125,000 to pursue the technology but City Manager Larry Spring said higher costs were anticipated.

The city’s police force will join Miami-Dade County and cities like Miami Beach, Miami and Miami Gardens in adopting body-worn camera programs.

The approval of the camera program comes about two weeks after the City Council approved additional training and review of the police department by the Police Executive Research Forum. Both actions are efforts to respond to last July’s shooting of Kinsey, an unarmed behavioral therapist, by Officer Jonathan Aledda.

“This item is the first large item of those community commitments that we made,” Spring said.

Video showed Kinsey with his hands up on the ground after he attempted to tend to his patient, Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, 26, who has autism, schizophrenia and an intellectual disability.

Kinsey filed a federal lawsuit against Aledda arguing that he was unlawfully arrested and that the officer used excessive force. That case remains open, and the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the shooting incident for potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also completed a review of the case last December. Those findings are being reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office and North Miami police.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3