The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is promoting transparency and accountability in law enforcement at levels our community has never before seen.
When Sheriff Chip Simmons was running for office, he campaigned on the promise that he would quickly implement a body camera program at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
After lobbying the Board of County Commissioners to approve CARES act funding of almost $950,000, the ECSO began implementing the body camera program this past January. They just recently finished outfitting all of their officers in Uniform Services with body cameras. To date, 268 body cameras have been purchased.
Sheriff Simmons states that the body cameras not only protect our citizens, but will protect our law enforcement officers as well. With more accountability regarding allegations of misconduct, a lack of professionalism, and abuse, citizens will be better able to access relevant law enforcement case information. Deputies will also better be protected against false accusations, and will now have access to footage that can help them more easily and accurately report a crime scene or their citizen interactions.
Coupled with this bolstered effort in openness and accountability, the next step that the ECSO has taken toward more transparency was to launch their Activity Dashboard, which was just recently launched in mid-March. Currently, the Activity Dashboard tracks the quantity of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly calls for service, arrests, traffic stops, mental health calls, warrants served, drug investigations, and incident reports.
The eventual goal of the dashboard is to combine these data indicators with a layer of interactive mapping, so that citizens may see in what geographic areas calls and activity are taking place. As of today, the mapping component is not quite complete, however, citizens may still visit the online Activity Dashboard to view how many calls the ECSO is handling each day.
Citizens may view the new Activity Dashboard HERE.
The Escambia County Couty Sheriffs Office has never had an interactive, user-friendly map before to track calls and reports. The Dashboard is updated every 5 minutes, and is integrated via SmartCop software.
Previously, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also launched an online Dispatch Log. Citizens are still able to access this tool, and are able to view calls to dispatch as they enter intake in real-time. The dispatch log is available to view HERE.
Sheriff Simons remains a steadfast champion for transparency, and is featured on a weekly Podcast on iHeartRadio where he discusses relevant community issues in law enforcement and speaks on updates within the agency. Citizens may listen to past episodes of “The Sheriff’s Report” podcast on iHeartRadio HERE. Sheriff Simmons is also featured twice a week on Andrew McKay’s morning news show on News Radio 1620.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office community engagement team continues to attend a packed schedule of neighborhoods association meetings every month, which take place almost every day of the week. These community engagement efforts have been in full-swing since Simmons took office, with the next event taking place this Saturday at NEP Ball Park at 10 AM, as the Sheriff’s Office hosts a “Home Runs for Heroes” charity kickball game for the community along with Step One Auto Group. Details on ECSO events can be found on the ECSO Facebook page.
With the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office strengthening engagement efforts and supporting a sustainable system to further transparency, our local law enforcement agency is now more open and accessible to the members community than ever.