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Pasco's Body Cam Video Prompts Hernando Residents to Demand Transparency

HERNANDO – There isn't a day that goes by that law enforcement officers aren't placing their lives in danger to protect citizens from loss of life and property. Of course, the mainstream media wants you to believe that the majority are just looking for someone to beat up, plant drugs on, or racially profile. Not to say that doesn't happen – it absolutely does, but that's like saying everyone who steps foot in the ocean is going to be eaten by a shark. Thankfully, there is technology that puts both law enforcement and civilians on a level playing field, anytime there is interaction. When there are always eyes watching, there is a much less likelihood that someone will commit a crime or make false accusations.

Most law enforcement agencies around the country have determined that implementing body cameras with their officers is as practical as carrying a firearm. There is no longer a plausible debate to the contrary. Sheriff Chris Nocco of the Pasco Sheriff's Office employed the use of body cams over six years ago and it has been an overwhelming success. Officials say the number of complaints and lawsuits filed against the agency has dropped exponentially and when one of his deputies does something wrong, the appropriate discipline can be swiftly carried out.

Yesterday, Pasco and Hernando County Sheriff's Deputies converged on a home invasion suspect at a residence in Spring Hill. The suspect barricaded himself inside an occupied residence and began shooting at deputies through the garage. Deputies were forced to kill the suspect during a shootout, as he tried to flee the residence. Thankfully, only one Hernando County Deputy suffered minor injuries from shattered glass.

During a press conference with Sheriff Nocco and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, Nocco said he would immediately release body cam footage, later in the day. Nocco, like other chief law enforcement officers who use body cams, believes in total transparency. Earlier this year, Nocco ordered all Child Protective Services Investigators to wear body cams, after one of his investigators was arrested for lying on CPS reports. So why does Sheriff Al Nienhuis refuse to follow suite and implement body cams in Hernando County?

R News has inquired with Nienhuis numerous times over the years, asking why he does not believe in the use of body cams. His response used to be to protect victims of domestic violence. Nienhuis said because of broad public records laws, anyone could request video footage of victims. But that in only partially true. Agencies can redact victim's identities and they have discretion on what can be released to the public. In addition, Marsy's Law now prevents law enforcement from divulging victim information. Budget concerns have also been cited, but there are numerous grant programs and other state and federal assistance for agencies that cannot afford the expense.

Recent inquiries about body cams with Sheriff Nienhuis have fallen on deaf ears and we have not received a single response.

In a recent social media post about the yesterday's shooting, Hernando County residents had this to say about Nienhuis's refusal to use body cams.

Carl DeRoberts writes, "This footage makes you aware and appreciate what police go through. And for some reason Hernando County Sheriff doesn't want body cameras. What are they really hiding? Thank you Pasco for helping me appreciate police that much more."

James Conaty says, (to Pasco) "Thanks for not being afraid to wear the body cams."

Derrick Drewniak says, "Wow! It must be embarrassing that Pasco has body cameras and Hernando does not! We need them in Hernando County, so everyone is transparent."

In a rare release of video footage, Nienhuis did allow Ring Doorbell video to be posted on the agency's Facebook page.

R News reached out to every elected official and candidate in Hernando County, regarding this issue, and not a single one wished to comment on the use of body cameras.

Only time will tell if Nienhuis will consider the use of body cameras.


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