A new state law clarifying when body camera video can be given to the public has Moraine police looking at joining law enforcement agencies using that technology.
The Moraine police department is one of the few in the Dayton area which does not have its officers equipped with cameras. The city has recently started exploring what system would be the best fit.
Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson said his department did not add cameras because of citizen privacy concerns. But, he said, when the Ohio legislature passed a bill earlier this year limiting when body camera footage could be released to the public, he began to explore adding the technology. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp.,
“It wasn’t one incident that we had or any incident that we had that prompted the change,” Richardson said.
“Because when you’ve got body cameras there are a lot of privacy issues that come into play,” he added. “When that (bill) got passed, I think that alleviated some of the concerns that I had.“
Among the issues the new law exempts from disclosure is body camera footage that captures:
• An act of severe violence against a person, unless the violence was done by a peace officer or the injured person’s consent is obtained;
• Personal information about someone who is not arrested, ticketed, charged or issued a warning by police;
• The interior of a residence or private business, unless it is the site of an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a police officer.
Moraine’s police division has tested one company’s equipment and will do further study before making a decision, Richardson said.
“We are in the infancy stages of doing some research and some information gathering,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate some other equipment and technologies.”
If the department begins using the technology, a University of Central Florida research study strongly recommended the city first have a period when officers test the cameras.
Moraine had “a mix of officers” testing equipment for about a month while its records clerk monitored “the actual evidentiary value of the items that were stored,” Richardson said.
Initial research indicates body cameras may cost the city between $30,000 to $40,000, plus additional fees depending on the vendor, Richardson said.
The last check on the cost of equipping Moraine’s fleet of 12 police cruisers with cameras was in the $100,000 range, he said.
A decision on what type of system would be best for the city may or may not be made by the end of the year, according to Richardson.
“I think we’re going to evaluate all of the technology and equipment that are out there,” he said. “Then when we picked what we thought was the best solution, we’re going to go find agencies that have that solution and see what their pluses and minuses are.
“There are departments that are shelving their…. programs because of the costs associated with it or the work that records clerks do on the back end,” he added. “And I don’t want to pick a system that won’t be practical for use for us.”
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