Alachua police to wear body cams

The Alachua Police Department (APD) will begin wearing body cameras as soon as early 2022.

According to APD spokesperson Lt. Jesse Sandusky, the commission’s approval on Monday night means a purchase order for $58,481.56 will be issued this week.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Sanduky said. “This is something the officers wanted.”

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Sandusky said the APD now joins the University of Florida Police Department, SF College Police, Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office as implementing body camera use and policy.

APD based its decision on studies of larger police departments that reveal not only a decrease in complaints against officers but also a decrease in use of force during officer interactions during a call.

“Complaints at agencies drop because everything is on camera,” Sandusky said. “Uses of force among officers against people they are dealing with also decline greatly. If they are using use of force it will be justified.

Sandusky added there are other positives to acquiring the body cameras. 

“This is a great benefit to the community,” he said. “It keeps the officers honest and the citizens honest.”

In total, 31 body cameras will be ordered to outfit “all of the officers from the chief down,” Sandusky said.

The devices will record everything the officer sees once they are activated.

Sandusky said an APD policy is being developed and all officers will be trained once the equipment arrives.

At the end of the officer’s shift, camera footage gets uploaded to a local secured storage file and is retained for a specified retention time before it  gets cycled out, Sandusky said.

“If there is a public records request, we can pull it up and redact appropriate info such as entering a home or privacy issues,” he said. “Everything will be done in house by records staff.”

Sandusky said the body cameras will run in conjunction with the patrol car cameras and are triggered to come on not only when the officer manually turns the camera on but also when the patrol sends a signal to activate the car camera and body camera when emergency lights turn on, when the patrol car reaches a certain excessive speed or if the patrol car experiences impact.

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