Sheriff: JSO could be trying body cameras by April

Sheriff plans trial run of cameras for 4 to 6 months next year


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office could begin using body cameras on a trial basis as soon as April, Sheriff Mike Williams told News4Jax on Tuesday.

The city will get its budget next week, and it's likely police body cameras won’t be included in it.

Williams said he's not ready to buy the devices yet, but he is ready to try them on a temporary basis, which could happen early next year.

The latest shootings involving Jacksonville police officers have led to a loud call for local police to wear body cameras.

Williams said he is in favor of the cameras, but said there is a lot of work to do before JSO pays millions each year to buy the cameras, store the footage and prepare the officers to use them.

“If we got money in this year’s budget for body cameras, we could not spend it,” Williams said. “So we got so much work to do with infrastructure dealing with the agency and the vendors -- which camera would be the best for us -- all that work needs to be done.”

Williams said he is checking with vendors to see if JSO can try out cameras without buying them.

“What we will do next year is a pilot program with four to six months body cameras on the street,” Williams said. “Anywhere from four to six vendors, giving us from 30 to 50 cameras, to figure out what one is going to work best for us.”

That means JSO could get 300 body cameras to test.

Williams said the department would then be able to put together a solid policy for using the cameras and work out the issues about storage, and more importantly what it will cost to equip all officers with cameras.

“It would be catastrophic for us to start this and have to stop it because we did not do our homework,” Williams said. “We are going to make sure we get it right.”

Williams said April would be a good starting point to test the cameras for about six months and then come back next year with a plan to move forward.

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