Funding for new body-cameras for UNF police

Sam Chaney

The University of North Florida Police Department (UNFPD) recently announced that it was provided with a federal grant through the Department of Justice in order to supply them with new body-worn cameras.

The grant is reportedly $29,000 and will provide higher quality cameras.

In order to receive this funding, the UNFPD had to write a proposal and compete with other law enforcement agencies. According to Chief Frank Mackesy, they were notified in October that their application was approved.

UNFPD held a public meeting to review body camera policies on Jan. 16 and stated the grant will also allow the department to purchase enough cameras in order to equip all patrol-officers and sergeants.

Courtesy of the UNF police Department Facebook page
The current UNFPD body camera used by officers.

UNFPD first implemented body cameras as part of a pilot program in May 2015. Until now, there have reportedly only been six cameras shared between officers during their shifts. Currently, there may be two or three cameras in the field daily.

“They’ve gained a lot of wear-and-tear over the years,” Mackesy explained. “They’re all shared between the officers, and they’re often worn for twelve hours, left to charge for twelve hours, and then are out again for another twelve hours.”

UNFPD’s current body cameras are the Axon Flex model, which Lt. Matthew Taylor explained were initially chosen for minimal software issues and easy cloud storage solutions.

According to Deputy Chief Bill Strudel, the department may not stay with the same camera manufacturing company.

“We’re going through a testing phase looking at new cameras,” said Strudel. “The first ones are here, and the others we have ordered are on the way.”

During this testing phase, the department will reportedly test other brands of body cameras like Safariland, Motorola, and WatchGuard.

Strudel says they will also be testing different camera positioning on an officer’s body in order to improve video quality while officers are physically moving.

UNFPD hopes to have all officers wearing the new body cameras by February.

UNFPD will be holding a second public meeting on the review of body camera policies from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 2 in the Student Union, Bldg. 58W, Room 3601.

The current UNFPD policies on body-worn cameras can be found here.


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