APOPKA, Fla. — 9 Investigates found out a loophole allows Apopka police to turn off their body cameras at their discretion.
It came to light when an officer turned off his camera in a suspected DUI case.
The department’s body camera policy allows officers to turn the cameras off when discussing tactics and strategies, more or less putting officers on the honor system about what is captured on camera.
Apopka officers Matthew McEachnie and Heath Wood were questioning a suspected drunk driver, who did not speak English.
“I would love to do a DUI, but I don’t feel like being ate up with, ‘Oh well, he didn’t understand anything you were saying,’” Wood can be heard saying on the camera before McEachnie shut it off.
The camera was off for nearly four minutes.
A newly released internal investigation shows the officer was within policy to do so.
“In this case, I don’t believe there was any intent not to use the camera properly, or not to follow a policy when the camera was turned off,” said Chief Mike McKinley in an interview with investigators.
McEachnie was interviewed three weeks after Channel 9’s initial story exposing the lapse.
At that time, he was able to quote the body camera policy number and the section within the policy that states, “An officer should turn their camera off when talking tactics or strategies.”
McKinley said he doesn’t believe the policy creates an excuse for officers any time they want to be off camera.
McKinley said all his officers will be outfitted with new body cameras in the next three months, and officers have the ability to shut them off to protect information that might be used during prosecution.
The driver in the suspected DUI case was driven home.
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