JACKSONVILLE, FL (July 11, 2018) - Sheriff Williams, along with Department of Police Service Director Tony Davis outline a comprehensive status update to the community on the research, acquisition and deployment of body worn cameras for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
PROGRAM OVERVIEW: In 2017, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office launched the use of Body Worn Cameras (BWC) in order to accomplish several objectives:
- Enhance accountability and public trust by preserving evidence of officer interaction with citizens;
- Capture digital audio-video evidence for criminal, civil, and traffic-related court cases;
- Assist officers with recalling facts or other details captured by the equipment that will help them accurately articulate a chain of events when writing reports;
- Serve as a training tool for officer safety and best practices; and
- Assist in the assessment of contacts between officers and citizens by reviewing procedures and interpersonal actions.
From February through June 2017, the Sheriff’s Office conducted six town hall meetings throughout the city and the Sheriff also held a city-wide meeting with the community to update the status of the body worn cameras.
TESTING & EVALUATION: In July 2017, the Body Worn Camera Unit was created and the Testing & Evaluation Pilot Program (T&E) began with vendors. The three-phased evaluation period was designed to evaluate for operational, budgetary and policy of this capability. The first test phase was held from July – September 2017 with 30 officers of varying ranks and functions participating in the pilot program. The second vendor test phase was held January – March 2018 and the last test period was held March - May 2018. After each trial phase, the participating officers were surveyed for feedback on: Ease of Use, User Interface, Video Review Functionality, Device Features as well as general Policy Insight.
BUDGET: In September 2017, the Sheriff’s Office was awarded a $997,956 body worn camera grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. These funds were approved for use in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 operating budget. No technology costs have been budgeted for the Body Camera initiative in FY19. JSO will begin to budget these costs in FY20 after the grant has ended.
Currently, JSO is in the procurement phase to procure single-unit, on-officer cameras. Once the procurement process is complete, JSO will use the awarded funds to acquire and deploy the devices in a phased approach. JSO anticipates issuing approximately 200 devices in the first quarter of FY19. The initial allocations of devices will be divided amongst the patrol personnel. Officers who are issued a BWC device will receive required training (with testing) covering the functionality, procedures and policy related to using the equipment in their day-to-day law enforcement activities.
POLICY: The current BWC policy is still under review with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) labor union. While talks have had been productive, the release date of the final approved version of the policy is unclear. However, officers will adhere to the initial policy released at the onset of the program until an updated policy is approved.