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Florida police chief says officers acted lawfully when disconnecting man's surveillance cameras

Posted: 10:56 PM, Jan 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-18 10:19:13-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — A Florida man said he feels his privacy was violated after he captured Vero Beach police disconnecting a surveillance camera outside his front door.

Police were investigating a crime the man says he had nothing to do with.

Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said he stands by his officers' actions.

In late August 2017, Currey said his officers got an anonymous tip that someone at a Vero Beach home on 15th Avenue matched the description of a man wanted for felony grand theft.

“We went there for a felony warrant. We were also advised there may be firearms in the house,” Currey said.

 

Police showed up at the apartment, with caution, according to Currey.

Surveillance video from the apartment captured the two officers knocking on the door, and waiting for an answer. However, the tenant, who does not want to be identified by name, was at work, he said.

Shortly after the officers are seen knocking on the door, one looks up at the surveillance cameras and reaches toward it. Then, the video goes black.

The tenant said he got a call from his neighbor telling him police were at his home.

“I had returned to my house about 45 minutes later and noticed [the camera was] disconnected,” the tenant told Scripps sister station WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He checked his surveillance tapes and said the officer pulled the wires from his camera.

“When I saw that I had no idea what they were up to, what their intentions were,” the tenant said.

It turned out the tenant was not the man police were looking for, but resembled the man they ended up arresting.

Regardless, Currey said he stands behind his officers’ actions and said they acted legally. 

“In law enforcement we don’t want to be at a disadvantage. We try to be at an advantage as best we can. If that was a safety precaution and a tactical precaution to make them safer then I stand behind that,” Currey said.

He explained the officers were worried about possible weapons in the home, but said he has not heard of any other officers disconnecting cameras for their safety when researching a crime tip.

The tenant called this a questionable practice.

“If anybody can just make a report and then have the police show up and remove and tamper with things around your house, that’s not right," the tenant said.

He also said he had just installed the cameras because his home had been burglarized a couple weeks prior.

The officer pulling the wires from his camera put it out of commission for at least a week, the tenant said.

Currey said he wished the tenant would have come forward with his concerns sooner. Currey said he only learned about the surveillance video this week, and the tenant's concern over the officers actions.

Currey said the department also would have offered to pay to repair any damage to the cameras.