Kettering ‘fast-tracking’ buying police body cams, developing policy on their use

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

KETTERING — The city’s police department is developing a policy on body cameras as it looks to fast-track buying them and equipping all officers with them.

Use of body cameras is a first for Kettering. How and when they will be used are among the issues the policy will address, police said.

“In general, officers engaged in a law enforcement contact with citizens will have their camera activated,” said Kettering Lt. Lee Sanders.

The purchase of body cameras — which Kettering hopes to begin using in early 2021 — is part of an effort to be more transparent and accountable, according to Police Chief Chip Protsman.

The cameras are the focus of a resolution to be considered by Kettering City Council tonight.

Council will also be asked to approve $236,030 in supplemental funds this year to buy 90 cameras instead of waiting until next year, Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said.

“We’re certainly trying to move this as quickly as we can and also as effectively as we can,” he said. “That might delay it just a little bit. But we are fast-tracking this from the standpoint of it being operational because we do believe it’s good for our community.

“We decided that since we have the quotes and we selected a vendor, we’ll just do the supplemental (transfer of funds) now because that will give us essentially a 90-day head start on the project,” Schwieterman added.

The use of body cameras and when they are activated has been the source of debate nationally in recent years.

Scrutiny about their use has increased this year with the police killing of Black people, notably in Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis; and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

A Dayton Daily News survey this summer of 30 law enforcement agencies in Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties found most which responded did not use body cameras.

“The use of body-worn cameras will allow for more transparency and accountability, which will strengthen our trusting partnership with the community,” Protsman said in a statement released by the city.

“The cameras will also allow our citizens to have more opportunities to witness the tremendous work officers do every day,” he said.

The Kettering Police Department is authorized for 86 officers and all will be outfitted with cameras with the goal to be fully operational by early 2021, according to the city.

Kettering plans to buy the cameras from WatchGuard, records show. The Dallas-based business touts itself as the industry leader for law enforcement mobile video solutions, according to its website.

“We looked at other vendors, but preferred the WatchGuard system based on quality, ease of use, and compatibility with our current WatchGuard in-car camera system,” Sanders said in an email.

If approved by council, it will take about 10-12 weeks for the cameras to arrive, followed by installation, set-up and training, according to Sanders.

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