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UD conducting random reviews of body camera footage

Saying he wants to bolster his department’s oversight and transparency, the University of Dayton’s police chief has begun randomly reviewing footage from body cameras worn by UD police officers.

Police Chief Rodney Chatman announced the policy this week, saying his supervisors have been reviewing footage from at least 10 body cameras per week.

Previously, the department conducted reviews only after incidents made such reviews necessary.

“It’s still relatively new technology for all of us, so what we do with them is new to all of us,” Chatman said about body cameras.

RELATED: A look back: The 10 biggest stories from area colleges last year The weekly reviews will allow the university to both “see the extraordinary work” officers are doing and “address certain issues before they become problematic,” Chatman said.

The goal, he said, is to improve the department’s performance.

“We feel the policy, oversight and accountability piece is really important,” Chatman said. “If we’re saying we’re going to be transparent, then we have to be transparent. We just can’t say it — we have to do it.”

Not all police department have embraced having their officers wear body cameras. UD police were outfitted with the cameras in 2013, before most other area universities. The cameras were implemented two years before UD hired Chatman from the University of Cincinnati, which began using police body cameras in 2014.

Body cameras at UC caught the shooting of Samuel DuBose by former campus officer Ray Tensing in July 2015. Tensing was charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter for the killing but a Hamilton County judge dismissed the charges last year.

RELATED: Wright State president: School could learn from branch campus success

Ohio State University police were given body cameras in 2016 while Miami University police began using them in 2015. Wright State University police are not equipped with body cameras, a WSU spokesman said.

“They’re a valuable resource for not only law enforcement, but the entire community,” Miami police chief John McCandless said at the time the school started using the cameras.

UD’s updated review protocol brings the police department in line with national standards, Chatman said. The school in 2016 contracted with a company, Lexipol, on keeping policies up to date and maintaining best practices. Lexipol works with several police departments across the U.S., according to its website.

RELATED: Miami Twp. officer-involved shooting marks 9th for Dayton area in 2017

Chatman said he’s tried to foster a deeper deeper trust and connection between students and officers during his time at UD.

“I think community input is important in all that we do, so I want it on St. Patrick’s Day and I want it on Tuesday,” Chatman said. “I don’t think that the profession has done a great job in establishing a vehicle in which that can take place and so I’m hopeful that’s what this will be.”

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