Body cameras could come to Jacksonville early next year

Sheriff tells council committee he is trying to get costs for program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff Mike Williams told a Jacksonville City Council committee Tuesday that there could be body cameras on police officers by early next year.

Earlier this summer, Williams said he was looking at a pilot program that could begin next spring, but he agreed with some City Council members on the Public Safety and Health Committee who said they would like to see it happen sooner.

No firm date was given because the Sheriff's Office is still trying to learn how much putting body cameras on officers will cost. He told the committee he would have the cost available before next year's budget cycle.

Among the questions council members had for Williams: What can the public expect to see happen when the cameras are turned on?

"One constant that you get from around the country, you do get a reduction in complaints against police officers," Williams said. "Now, there are two sides to that equation. Are policeman acting better because they're on camera? Possibly. Or do citizens think better (of it) because they're on camera? I think that's a possibility, too. Either way, as long as we get a reduction and we begin to build some public trust with that tool, I think it's beneficial."

The pilot program should have minimal cost to the city, but once the Sheriff's Office picks a vendor, it could cost $3 million to $5 million. The sheriff is looking at some federal grants to pay for the equipment, but storage of the material is going to be the issue.


About the Author: