Kettering planning to install cameras on police cars

The city is waiting to determine if it will also outfit officers with body cameras.

Kettering is considering outfitting all of its police cars with cameras, the new police chief said.

The city’s move to install dashboard cameras comes as other departments in the region are discussing whether to outfit their officers with body cameras.

“We’re going to wait a little bit on those to see how others around the country are doing with those,” Chief Christopher “Chip” Protsman said. “I think there’s too much unknown right now, particularly the privacy issue with body cameras and the cost.”

The city plans to test dashboard cameras and reach a decision soon on which to install. The cameras for 25 cars and two motorcycles and a server to store the video are estimated to cost $177,000, said Protsman who was sworn in as chief in April.

“Obviously, it’s a good thing to have documentation and to be able to see what happens without a doubt,” Protsman said.

Protsman said while his department is not considering using body cameras at this time, it will look into whether the squad-car cameras it buys could eventually also serve as body cameras.

The chief spoke with the Dayton Daily News, just after former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was indicted for the murder of Cincinnati resident Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop. Protsman said he is well aware of the scrutiny police face as a result of officer-involved shootings around the country. However, he said the department’s relationship with the community is strong.

“The relationship with the community is just a lot different than it is in other places and around the country. It truly is. So you know, we certainly see it happening elsewhere. We don’t see it happening here right now,” Protsman said.

Though he doesn’t foresee any incidents like the one in Cincinnati, Protsman said his department will be proactive, focusing on officer training for the city’s 83 sworn officers.

“Officers need to understand that if people are having a bad day or trying to bait them into doing something, then the officers have to be aware of that,” Protsman said. “It’s up to them to try to deescalate things and bring it down and not, you know, be the ones that get upset and lose their temper.”

Kettering’s police department tested dash cameras in a few police cars in the early 2000s but did not outfit the fleet.

There is value in local police departments installing dashboard cameras, Robert Vaughn, an attorney and assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Cedarville University, said.

“It’s easier for a court later on if there’s some dispute, whether it’s a dispute about the criminal act in the trial of a defendant who’s accused of a crime, or it’s a dispute about the officer’s conduct whether it was appropriate or not,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said cameras installed in police cars cause less of a privacy concern than body cameras because cameras in cars record what is occurring in public.

“If you have a camera on an officer’s body, they may be going into private areas. And then all of the sudden, there’s footage inside of a private home, for example, that may be subject to public records requests, open records laws,” Vaughn explained.

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