The Village of South Jacksonville is helping out a neighboring police agency to come into compliance with the state’s mandate for body cameras.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to sell 6 Watchguard Body Cameras to the Chapin Police Department at the cost of $100 each. The body cameras recently became surplus property of the South Jacksonville Police Department as the department recently switched over to new Axon body cameras and tasers.
Chapin Police Chief Steven Helmich says that the sale of the property will lift a burden off of his much smaller department: “First, I want to say thanks to the Village of South Jacksonville for giving us the opportunity to the Chapin Police Department to be able to purchase these. They gave us first crack at it. They didn’t have to do that, and they gave us a very honest, good deal on the price of these body cameras. What this is going to do is put the Chapin PD into compliance with the state statute that says on January 1st, 2025 all municipalities, all the way down to the smallest size government, has to have body-worn cameras for every law enforcement officer that’s performing duties in an official capacity. So, this brings us into compliance early, and allows us to work some kinks out and get policy written in a way that will kind of work with the brand of body camera that we have purchased.”
Helmich says that smaller municipalities like Chapin have to plan months in advance with their budget to buy equipment like body cameras and then, implement them into policies and procedures for officers. Helmich says that some smaller departments haven’t even started yet in getting into the process of purchasing body cameras for their officers: “It’s going to take a sizable chunk out of [some department’s] normal operating budget to come into compliance, because once again, this was an unfunded mandate from the state. The fact that we were able to get these [body cameras] purchased actually 2 1/2 years in ahead of time and get into compliance, and have time to get the kinks worked out, get the policy implemented, get the server and electronic media storage space purchased is a huge help to us. Now, we are able to know that it is a box that’s been checked off our list and we can continue to move forward to focus on other priorities for the department.”
Helmich says it also helps that Chapin’s squad car dash cameras are also the Watchguard brand and that the software licensing is already purchased. Helmich says that he hopes to have the body cameras and charge stations handed out to his current roster of officers within the next month.