While most sheriff’s offices across the state utilize dash and body cams, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office does not use either. Not one CCSO patrol car has a dashcam.
In fact, Sheriff Prendergast refuses to use them, and county records show that he has never attempted to make a request for them.
Despite multiple forum complaints of CCSO deputies turning on their emergency lights, blowing through red lights, just to turn them off, Predenergast does not see the need. In one complaint, two deputies activated their emergency lights, blew through a red light in front of Home Depot on U.S 19 just to get down the road, and turn into Fat Daddy’s for lunch. Other complaints reveal deputies doing well over the posted speed limit.
Sam Mullins, wrote, “Where is the accountability? Because right now, there is none. The sheriff thinks his deputies can do no wrong and that is not the case.”
A local business owner, wrote, “I see it all the time. I see them run red lights and then turn into a parking lot to go into a store or restaurant. At least two times a week. I have set up cameras and considered posting videos. But I am afraid of the backlash because this is a good old boy town. My advice to everyone is to get your own dashcam.”
“Get your own dashcam” was a sentiment share more than a 1000 times on a group Facebook post in regards to the CCSO.
Lack of accountability was demonstrated in May when a witness recorded two deputies using excessive force on a mentally ill, homeless woman. A woman that CCSO deputies already knew was mentally ill from previous dealings with her.
In that case, Citrus Gazette viewed the video, which showed the petit woman being tossed around like a ragdoll. At the request of the witness, the video was not published. The witness, who is a store manager, said she feared retaliation from the CCSO.
Prendergast says that “great leadership” makes the difference, not body cameras.