Jacksonville to buy clip-on video cameras for police
by Laura Gaddy
Jan 14, 2014 | 3217 views |  0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville City Council agreed Monday to buy 23 wearable cameras for the city’s Police Department.

The city will buy Axon Flex Body cameras and two camera bays for $14,498.75, according to a measure the council passed. The measure also also authorized Mayor Johnny Smith to sign a three-year contract with the camera manufacturer to store video on a computer server for $5,310.90 per year.

"I think it will protect all of us," said police Chief Tommy Thompson.

About the size of a tube of lipstick, the devices can be clipped to a pair of sunglasses, a shirt collar or the bill of a baseball cap. Thompson said officers will use them to capture everything from routine traffic stops to high speed car chases.

Thompson said given how nearly every resident is equipped with a mobile phone with the capacity to capture video, it's especially important for officers to have the same capability.

"I think we're catching up with the citizens like law enforcement always does," Thompson said. "We were outgunned first, and now we're getting ‘out-cameraed’.”

Council President Mark Jones said the devices will add a new measure of accountability to police work in Jacksonville, making it easier to determine when accusations against police officers have merit.

“This way we'll have an actual account of what happened,” he said. “It's good for the police, and it's good for the people they pursue.”

Thee council has been considering the purchase for about two months, and it wasn't scheduled to vote on the matter Monday but members voted to add it to the agenda shortly after the meeting began.

"We've been discussing this for a couple of months now. Why keep putting it off?" he said.

In other business:

- The council agreed to pay $7,000 to buy a heating and air conditioning unit for the Water Works and Sewer Building.

- Agreed to pay police officers a $700 annual equipment allowance fee. For the past several years the fee was $600, but it was increased this year, officials said.

- Appointed Jamie "Red" Etheredge to serve on the Metropolitan Planning Organization's Citizens Advisory Committee.

- Acknowledged the Dec. 31, 2013, retirement of Bill Cain, a former Jacksonville Fire Department lieutenant.

- Solicited a list of eligible applicants from the Civil Service Board for three new firefighters.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.
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