soldiers from Ohio to get new body cameras; Democrats want more | Ohio
(The Center Square) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently called for body cameras to be worn by all soldiers in the state, but Ohio Democrats say it’s just a first step towards the law enforcement reforms introduced at the General Assembly earlier this year.
DeWine’s directive will equip all soldiers and highway patrol vehicles with body cameras and on-board systems by May. The effort means the distribution and installation of 1,550 body cameras and 1,221 new on-board cameras, starting this month with the District of Columbus and going district by district through May, when the headquarters state will be equipped.
“The patrol has used on-board cameras for decades, but as technology continues to advance, body cameras have become an essential tool for law enforcement,” DeWine said. “By investing in these cameras, we are not only giving our soldiers the tools they need to better protect the public, but we are also giving the public yet another reason to trust the professionalism of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.”
The total cost of the camera package, which includes equipment, storage, installation, maintenance, training and operational costs, is approximately $ 15 million over the next five years. DeWine said the expense would be paid from the patrol’s operating budget.
State Democrats used the new announcement to continue pushing forward a series of law enforcement reform bills that were introduced last spring but have yet to be heard by the justice committee Criminal House.
The proposed reforms include Bill 367, or André’s law, which would require the use of body cameras and dashboard cameras by law enforcement. Bill is named after Andre Hill, who was killed by a Columbus police officer while holding a cell phone in December 2020. The officer who shot Hill had not turned on his camera bodily injury during the incident.
“I applaud the governor for taking the necessary steps to require body cameras for Ohio State Highway Patrol personnel, but this is only the first step,” said Rep. Dontavius Jarrells, D- Columbus. “We need body cameras for all officers in our state, regardless of the community they serve. Being proactive and stopping officer misconduct before it happens should be our goal, and André’s Law provides the framework for ensuring transparency and accountability to keep citizens safe and to ensure that our officials are held to higher standards. We need to hold hearings on [HB 367] and make sure he passes and heads for the governor’s office.
DeWine launched a new grant program in September that allocates $ 10 million to help local law enforcement agencies invest in body camera equipment. The first round of grants is expected to be announced this year.