Union representing Orange County deputies files lawsuit over body camera policy change

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The union representing Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies is taking legal action against Sheriff John Mina and the sheriff’s office over the use of body cameras.

The union is concerned about a new policy that enables the department’s body cameras to capture one minute of audio and video before the deputies hit the record button.

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Union officials said they don’t mind the video, but they don’t want audio from what they might consider private conversations recorded before an incident starts.

For example, they’re concerned about private conversations between significant others or other citizens that could be captured and stored by the agency.

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The union president said in a statement that the union believes the policy change “violates the constitutional rights to privacy of our bargaining unit members.”

Mina said he believes the change allows for greater transparency and would give a more complete picture of deputies’ interactions with the public, especially in high-stress incidents where deputies need to react immediately and might not turn on their cameras right away.

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Attorney and former chief judge Belvin Perry said the legal battle will likely come down to how far the courts believe the right to privacy extends for deputies while on duty.

“I suspect that it will end up at the Florida Supreme Court at some point, and it may even end up at the United States Supreme Court,” Perry said.

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The union agreed to the one minute of video earlier this year, but not the audio, and believes it should have been bargained.

The union said it is not aware of any other agencies in the state of Florida that have pre-recorded audio on their body cameras.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.