Body cameras for the town’s police officers were approved unanimously by the town council Tuesday night.
“Cameras increase officer safety. And cameras increase transparency and the accountability of our officers,” Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow told the council before the vote to approve the wallet-sized devices. Officers should be wearing them sometime in December.
Included in the $880,000 purchase are Tasers with holsters. When the Taser is taken out of the holster and turned on by the officer, all body-worn cameras within a 30-foot radius are automatically turned on, according to Jupiter Police Maj. Adam Hirsch.
Guns, however, will not activate the cameras when officers take their guns out of their holsters. At least not right away.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Axon Enterprises Inc., the company supplying the cameras, is working on that technology, which should be done by spring. That technology also will turn cameras on in a 30-foot radius when guns are removed from holsters. The devices will be delivered to Jupiter at no additional fee, said Andrew Mellen, regional representative for Axon.
Body cameras have been talked about in Palm Beach County for years, but gained momentum after the officer-involved shooting death of Corey Jones in Palm Beach Gardens, which occured exactly two years ago today.
Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Florida Atlantic University, Highland Beach and Lake Clarke Shores police agencies use body-worn cameras.
“We need the cameras to increase the level of transparency and increase officer safety,” said Jupiter Councilman Ilan Kaufer.
The town would pay for the cameras over five years.
The first installment, about $200,000, would come out of police federal forfeiture funds, money the town receives from the seizure of stolen property. The next four annual installments, about $171,000 each, would come from the overall Jupiter budget.
Each Jupiter officer will be issued two of the cameras. One is used during the day, and the other when driving to and from work in a take-home car. When the other camera is not being used, it goes into a dock to upload the videos.
In other action, the council approved:
- Holding a special workshop meeting for interviews for town manager candidates on Nov. 6 starting at 1 p.m. A town council meeting is planned on Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. for the council to make a final decision. Both meetings are open to the public.
- Spending $482,000 for Felix Associates of Florida, Inc. to install a 10-inch water transmission main crossing under Interstate 95 and Florida’s Turnpike from the Heights of Jupiter to Palm Beach Country Estates. Construction will improve water quality by reducing water age, providing for better maintenance of chlorine residuals and reducing flushing volumes required to maintain acceptable chlorine residuals, according to town records.
- Spending $392,298 for Master Meter, Inc. for new water meters and attachments.