JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office held the third of seven town hall meetings Tuesday to get the community's input on body cameras, which will soon be given to every officer.
The meeting comes on the heels of six arrests that occurred after a fight erupted at a demonstration in Hemming Park on Friday. The demonstration was attended by both people in support of and against military action in Syria.
Director Tony Davis said the Sheriff's Office will provide even more transparency, accountability and training opportunities for the public when the agency rolls out its first-ever body camera pilot program this June.
At the third town hall meeting, which was held to get feedback from the community, residents voiced their support for the cameras, along with some concerns.
"There's a big contradiction in the fact organization trying to investigate itself, because (the) department used to investigate, so who's to say what they can say and not say?" resident Nicholas Raven said.
"I'm impressed with the body camera program, and I'm in favor of it," resident Deborah Pace said.
"I'm a really big advocate for the body cameras," resident Amor Brown said. "My primary concern (and) my area of interests are the training opportunities that would result from the cameras and the duration of the pilot."
Data from the cameras would be available to the public but would be limited for cases involving issues such as child abuse or rape.
"After a year, they can see which ones hold up better physically in the field, which ones work better, which one has better storage and what type of problems are they having or not having, that they did not anticipate prior to," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.
Another big concern raised was if officers will be able to turn off cameras or manipulate them. They will be required to keep the cameras on while on duty. They will not be able to manipulate the data.
The Sheriff's Office considered using an Arizona-based company that offered a free camera to every officer, but due to challenges with servers and legality, it said it will not be pursuing a deal with that company.
The Sheriff’s Office originally planned to host six town hall meetings, but announced Tuesday night that Sheriff Mike Williams will be hosting a seventh meeting in June.
The other remaining town hall meetings will be held:
- April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at FSCJ Kent Campus, 3939 Roosevelt Blvd., Large Auditorium -- F128
- May 11 at 6:30 p.m. at FSCJ Downtown Campus, 101 W. State St., Large Auditorium -- A106B
- May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at FSCJ Deerwood Campus, 9911 Old Baymeadows Road, Room B1204