New policy on police bodycam video to be put in place soon in Jacksonville

Announcement was made during City Council social justice committee meeting Monday

A new policy regarding the release of police-worn body camera video is going to be put into place soon.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new policy regarding the release of police-worn body camera video is going to be put into place soon.

That was announced during a City Council social justice committee meeting Monday morning.

The release of body camera footage has been a sore spot between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office since some JSO officers starting wearing the cameras at the end of 2018. To date, footage from only two police-involved shootings has been made public.

There have been meetings between JSO, the state attorney and groups like the Northside Coalition to speed up the process of releasing body camera footage. Civil rights groups have been demanding action, and now it looks like it’s going to happen.

During Monday’s meeting, City Council member Ron Salem told the committee a new policy is coming very soon.

“I have spoken to the players, the state attorney, etc., and there is a proposal being completed on the issue of body cameras — a new policy between the State Attorney’s Office and the sheriff,” said Salem, a member of the committee.

He added he did not want to view the policy because it then would become public record.

“I suspect we will have a release of that policy in the very near future,” Salem said.

The State Attorney’s Office confirmed to News4Jax that it is working on a new plan and will release it soon.

Right now, the current policy laid out in a memorandum from the State Attorney’s Office in June states: “The SAO will determine the public release of BWC (body-worn camera) footage in OIS (officer-involved shooting) incidents.”

A Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told News4Jax they understand new information could be coming from the State Attorney’s Office, but right now, the current policy remains the same.

After speaking with various groups, News4Jax has learned the holdup has been surrounding the length of time after a shooting when the footage will become pubic. For example: Should it be public after 30, 60 or 90 days? But there’s no word yet on what has been decided.

“I don’t know exactly what it does or how quickly they will be released, but I suspect it would be a significant improvement upon the situation we have today,” Salem told the committee on Monday.

Right now, there is no time frame for the release of body camera video in police shootings.

Ben Frazier, of the Northside Coalition, told News4Jax he did not want to comment on the proposal but said his group and others have been meeting with the sheriff, the mayor and the state attorney. Fraizer said the series of meetings appear to have been successful, and he has been pushing for this happen since body cameras were first used in Jacksonville.

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