State Attorney’s Office gives update on local body cam policy, officer-involved incident investigations

New body camera policy

FLORIDA — There is a new body camera policy in Jacksonville for police-involved shootings.

The State Attorney’s Office made the announcement on Tuesday, that spells out what appears to be a major overhaul in how video will be released.

“I think it is a good day for Jacksonville,” says State Attorney Melissa Nelson.

Content Continues Below

The review time by her office from the time of an incident will now be reduced from several months to 21 days.

In addition, office will now advise law enforcement agencies within 30 days if it objects to the release of body camera video.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

can make the ultimate decision because the video belongs to the agency, but Nelson tells Action News Jax’s Ben Becker she does not see an issue arising from the decision.

“They will be releasing this video,” Nelson said.

However, JSO sent Becker a statement that reads in part, “in accordance with Florida State Statute 119, JSO does not release records while a criminal case is still active if doing so could jeopardize the investigation.”

Becker asked Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson if he thought this was a significant change in policy. “I do not,” Carson said. “There are no guarantee we are going to see the video in a suitable time frame.” Carson said.

“We are going to hold the Sheriff and the State Attorney to their words on this day,” says Ben Frazier, the head of the Northside Coalition, who is glad Nelson is making changes in the wake of the protests following George Floyd’s death.

The release of police body camera video in Jacksonville has been a point of contention between JSO and activists for years. Nelson told Becker that her office recently cleared 14 officers in shootings over the past two years.

Nelson said the policy is a first in Florida.