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Rollout of new Columbus police body cameras nearing completion

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (center) is joined by Robert Clark, the Director of the Department of Public Safety (right) and Columbus Division of Police Assistant Cheif Gregory Bodker (left) during a press conference on March 22, 2022, announcing the rollout of upgraded body cameras for Columbus officers.
City of Columbus
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (center) is joined by Robert Clark, the Director of the Department of Public Safety (right) and Columbus Division of Police Assistant Cheif Gregory Bodker (left) during a press conference on March 22, 2022, announcing the rollout of upgraded body cameras for Columbus officers.

After using the first generation of body-worn police cameras for about six years, Columbus police are nearly finished rolling out new technology to replace the original technology.

The new generation of the wearable Axon 3 cameras come with some improvements, both in technology and in policy.

Columbus police officer Rob Layton said the 2,100 cameras won't just go to patrol officers.

"The detectives are also going to get them. Every supervisor, everybody, every sworn person, everybody who has arrest powers, or can take an enforcement action is going to have a body camera,” he said.

While most patrol officers have received their new cameras, detectives should be getting theirs in December, Layton said. The rollout is expected to be complete by March.

The cameras activate and synchronize automatically, and offer higher quality audio and video than the old technology.

“The new system has a lot more bells and whistles. It has a lot of luxury features. It has a higher resolution, a much more reliable interface. It's a lot easier to use, and overall provides a much more clear picture of the scene or the situations that occur,” Layton said.

Layton says that will improve transparency and accountability.

The department ordered more than needed, to have replacements on hand and for department expansion, Layton said.

“We want to make sure that the officers are capturing evidence and capturing a fair, unbiased and objective view of the situations that they handle on a daily basis,” Layton said.

The department is also getting 450 new cameras for cruisers.

The camera can also record information before activation.

The five-year contract for the Axon 3 cameras includes storage.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Fox joined the WOSU newsroom from the Tribune Chronicle/Vindicator in the Youngstown area, where she’d been a reporter since 2014. Contact Renee at renee.fox@wosu.org.