The South Jacksonville Police Department is now on the cutting edge of digital evidence technology.
Chief of Police Eric Hansell told the South Jacksonville Village Board of Trustees last Thursday that they are the first department in Morgan County that can now transmit digital footage from police-worn body cameras to the State’s Attorney’s Office and to a defendant’s counsel in a criminal case.
Hansell says he’s amazed at how far technology has come in photographic and video evidence during his time as an officer: “When I started in law enforcement over 22 years ago, I was still taking photographs with a Polaroid camera that I carried with me. Then, of course, we transitioned to 35mm film cameras and now digital cameras. Anytime we do reports that have evidence where photographs are taken or we have video, typically we would put that on a disc or a thumb drive and transfer those up to the State’s Attorney’s Office. With the new body cameras and the squad car cameras, we are recovering so much digital data that it won’t fit on discs or it will have to be put on multiple thumb drives.”
Hansell says they now have the ability to digitally transmit all of that data over the Internet securely with the new Axon Body Camera system. The village board approved the purchase of the new body camera and taser system last March.
Hansell says by transferring data over the Internet through a specially encrypted program that the State’s Attorney’s Office has access to, they can save time, money, and manpower: “We are not manually having to burn a disc. We’re not having to pay for a disc. We are not having to manually put [videos] on a thumb drive. We don’t have to pay for a thumb drive and then take it up to the State’s Attorney’s Office. Now, I can sit at my desk, send it in an email to the State’s Attorney’s Office, and they get it in their system. They can process it there, and then they can, in turn, send that data on their side to the Public Defender’s Office or defense counsel. They don’t have to buy a disc or a thumb drive. They don’t have to physically take anything anywhere or mail it. It’s just done all digitally and electronically. So, it’s making things easier to move for us and costing us less man hours and money to do it.”
Hansell says it’s great that his agency is the first to pioneer transferring digital data directly to the local court system. He told the village board that it makes everything easier and faster as far as administrative work on the back end of a criminal case.