Detective gets apology after camera flap - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Detective gets apology after camera flap

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Days after blaming a West Palm Beach Police homicide detective for not saving video from a surveillance camera fast enough, city spokesman Elliot Cohen said he was wrong.

"I totally understand I gave the impression a detective did something wrong, and that was an impression that I regret. I regret giving out the bad information," Cohen said.

When Cohen was questioned about why there was not video of a murder near the Dunbar Village surveillance camera, he said the detective didn't get the video within the 23 hour deadline before it was recorded over.

But Cohen had bad information. The cameras are set to record for 23 days, not 23 hours. And the detective did try to get the video, but the camera's hardware was broken.

West Palm Beach Police Chief Bryan Kummerlen says he has spoken to the detective about the misinformation.

"It has been addressed. She was a little angry. But she is satisfied with the resolution," Kummerlen said.

But there are implications for the city falsely blaming the homicide detective.

Trust with the victim's family is now compromised. Earlier this week, the victim's mother said she was frustrated by hearing different stories about the cameras.

"They say one thing and then someone else says another," the victim's mother Juanita Jefferson said.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio says the situation does concern her.

"I obviously think we need to be careful about what we share... it had nothing to do with the detective. It had to do with the hardware," Muoio said.

The chief says there is concern that the victim's family and others in the community may have gotten the wrong message about the detective.

"Just as long as people know we are out there trying to do the best we can and trying to build relationships with the community... and this doesn't help," Chief Kummerlen said.

The issue opened a can of worms when it comes to the city's surveillance camera system.

Both the mayor and the police chief said the cameras have not been well maintained over the years and were not a priority.

"The camera program fell by the wayside a little bit," the chief said.

Chief Kummerlen says when he's complained to the city's IT department in the past, often times repairs were not made.

"I don't think they had dedicated people to do that. And then when they did have dedicated people, there may have been a little bit of turnover," Kummerlen said.

The city's IT department that is responsible for maintaining the cameras has sixteen critical vacancies after a mass exodus.

"I think a lot of people thought they were getting behind in technology, so it gave them pause to leave," interim IT director Ren Nardoni said.

The mayor says she is hiring a new IT director and working to fill the vacancies.

She also says the cameras are now functioning and there are plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new cameras.

"There are lots of tools in the tool box. Other tools had higher priority than the cameras," Muoio said.

The police chief says the cameras have not helped detectives solve any of the recent shootings on the north side of the city. It's unclear if that is because the cameras were not operational.

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