City commission votes for new body cameras for GPD, shopping cart ordinance


When the Gainesville City Commission switched to virtual meetings in April (after canceling meetings for almost a month), they adopted meeting rules for the new format. Now that they expect to continue holding virtual meetings for the foreseeable future, they discussed new virtual meeting rules today.

After some discussion, they voted unanimously to add General Commission Comment, allow commissioners to place items on the agenda, allow modifications to the backup no later than 3 business days before the meeting, and add the ability to vote on all items of city business in virtual meetings.

There was no discussion of putting General Public Comment back into the meeting rules. The city commission has taken no General Public Comment since March; the Alachua County Commission has taken General Public Comment at every Regular Meeting and at some Special Meetings.

They also unanimously decided to add Commissioner Reina Saco to the Race & Equity Subcommittee; add Saco, Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, Commissioner Harvey Ward, and Commissioner David Arreola to the Zero Waste Subcommittee; and request that the Joint Water Policy Committee (soon to be renamed to the Joint Water and Climate Policy Board) increase the number of city and county commissioners to 3 each. Arreola said he was interested in joining that board if the number is increased.

The commissioners unanimously approved a Strategic Plan that features these five top priorities: City Racial Equity Policy and Plan, Affordable Housing Strategy, Community Policing/Use of Force Report and Zone Implementation, Downtown Master Plan and Development Standards/Guidelines, and Comprehensive City Public Health Policy and Strategy/Action Plan.

Commissioner Saco proposed a Resolution to prohibit evictions during a state of emergency due to a disaster or emergency (referred to as a “Hurricane Moratorium”). The commission voted unanimously to consider the Resolution at their next meeting.

They then considered an interlocal agreement establishing the Joint Water and Climate Policy Board and a Resolution establishing the creation of a Citizen Climate Advisory Committee. The motion passed unanimously.

They then discussed whether to authorize the City Manager to execute a 5-year agreement to purchase body-worn cameras for Gainesville Police Department. These cameras are automatically activated “through several different operations,” and once one is activated, all body-worn cameras on the scene are activated. The agreement will cost around $3.25 million over 5 years. 

Commissioner Gail Johnson thought the cameras were only needed by patrol, SWAT, and K-9 officers and not for non-sworn officers, so she objected to spending so much money. The non-sworn officers would be the 20 Police Service Technicians.  

Arreola said this was “the opposite of the direction we want to go.” He moved to ask management to come back with a different body-worn camera proposal. That motion was seconded by Johnson. Hayes-Santos said he would not support that motion but would support having both sworn and non-sworn officers wear cameras on calls. Ward was concerned that they would regret it at some point in the future if they didn’t decide to increase the usage of body cameras. Mayor Lauren Poe said the cameras increase accountability.

Arreola was concerned about the use of facial recognition technology with body camera footage. Commissioner Gigi Simmons agreed and wanted to see a facial recognition policy (due to come before the Digital Access Subcommittee in September) before approving the body-worn cameras.

Poe reiterated that officers are already using body-worn cameras and that the real question was whether to extend that to Police Service Technicians. 

The vote on the motion to consider a different proposal in the future failed, with Simmons, Ward, Saco, Hayes-Santos, and Poe voting against it.

Hayes-Santos moved to approve the body-worn camera proposal as presented. That motion passed, 5-2, with Arreola and Johnson in dissent.

The shopping cart ordinance, which requires businesses to implement shopping cart retention systems, passed unanimously on second reading.

  • Let’s charge the establishment that has a shopping cart STOLEN from their property! Idiots like “Wacko” Saco, Harvey “Two Face”, “Still suckling” Arreola, Simmons “I’m not racist,” Johnson “me either” and King “I like this train” Poe are absolutely clueless.
    They keep on billing the residents of Gainesville for their financial incompetence. I take that back, their mental incompetence.
    There’s dumb and there’s dumb arse…
    Starting to question “this highly educated” community and their choice of leadership.

  • $400,000 for pure jail air? Are you kidding? And tshirt masks for the general public?

  • …Climate policy board? Facial recognition stuff? Thats
    A lot of big brother UN Agenda 21 stuff…Virtual Meetings
    Forever? Weren’t they supposed to be passing some
    Landlord/renters thing too?

  • Body cams have generally been regarded as an insult to sworn officers who somehow feel that nobody trusts them to follow department policy and the law. — I’m encouraged that some on the commission are finally suspicious of the facial recognition features…wait till they see Bill Gates’ tracking tattoo and his vaccines that permantly alter your DNA in the spirit of keeping you safe. – https://bit.ly/3ioogZ5

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