The Village of South Jacksonville Police are successfully piloting body cameras for their police department. Police Chief Eric Hansell gave an update to the Village Board Wednesday night during their committee of the whole session.
He says that the department is currently working with an important issue with the cameras that several other departments across the country are also currently facing with body cameras: “On the body cameras, what we’re looking for is we’re looking at number one how to mount them to the uniform or where to mount them so that they get the best view of whatever incident occurs to document it on both parties’ behalf of the suspect or violator or the officers asides. A lot of what you see in officer-involved shootings and or incidents that have been captured by body cameras is a lot of it is obscured because of positioning. We’re just researching how we can mount it the best and what’s going to give us the best view, so we’re just playing with options on that.”
Hansell says he is also looking at how the policy will work. He says he’s currently researching how the city statute will be written to protect all parties involved: “I know that you’re going to look at number one when it records, how it records, how much data it stores, how you store your data, how long you maintain and store your data, so it’s things like that. When people look at body cameras, they look at does it record 24/7 while it’s always being worn. You know we have to protect everybody’s privacy: the officers’ privacy and the residences or persons out on the street that we’re interacting with. If you’re walking down the street and taking your kid or child for a walk, you know do you want to be on camera? We have to have policies to govern the use of it and how everything is stored and maintained.”
Hansell says a main part of that policy will also deal with media releases to the public, obscuring those not involved involved in crimes, arrests, or incidents in videos released to the public, and how that media will be disseminated. He says it’s not about being secretive. Hansell believes that the body camera usage will make policing that much more transparent to the public and also protecting all of those involved in any future incident the cameras may capture.