On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council passed by a 17 to 0 margin two bills that address public safety concerns.
2017-51 appropriates $883,519 from the budget of the State Attorney’s Office to test sexual assault kits.
A backlog in tests emerged during the administration of the previous state attorney, which became a campaign issue in her failed reelection bid; as that backlog swelled, so did salaries and bonuses in the state attorney’s office.
Via a federal initiative, this money funds two cold case detectives, who will be devoted to this testing for three years.
2017-56 appropriates $2.7 million of general fund dollars to replace network equipment used by the sheriff’s office. This replacement will be necessary for the body camera program that the sheriff’s office looks to begin, in pilot form, later this year.
Body cameras create storage burdens on servers, as the files are memory intensive.
As the bill summary asserts, “JSO is operating with equipment with a 1999 expiration date; the majority of the remaining equipment expired between 2006 and 2012.”
System failure is a concern. JSO has pushed for updates of antiquated infrastructure; the body camera roll out provides a unique opportunity to make the case, given the storage needs created by these programs.
Body cameras went from being a slightly taboo topic during the 2015 Sheriff’s campaign to a fait accompli in 2017, as a result of consistent community pressure from activist groups.
The police union asserts that these cameras should be a subject of collective bargaining; however, that is not the position of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.