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Cincinnati Police To Begin Testing Body Cameras This Month

Cincinnati officials are moving forward with plans to equip all of the city's police officers in patrol functions with body worn cameras.  

The plan is to select a vendor in May and purchase about 700 cameras. 

City Manager Harry Black told Council's Law and Public Safety Committee testing for the two competing units will begin later this month.  The city is working with VieVu and Taser.

"At that point we will have six body-worn camera units from both vendors," Black said.  "They will be tested consecutively in the field.  We're looking at District Three to serve as the location for that field testing."

The cameras will be rolled out in phases starting with the Central Business section and  continuing through the other five police districts.

The city has set aside $2.7 million to pay for the cameras and other supporting hardware.

Black told council a number of committees have been working on the body camera program.  He said that includes meeting with various stakeholders.

"This is a very complex initiative," Black said.  "It will become an integral part of how we police and how the public engages our policing.  So community stakeholder meetings are very critical. Community input and involvement is critical."

The first round of community stakeholder meetings was not well-attended, so the city plans another set of meetings in the future.  The city has met with the several groups including the ACLU, the NAACP and the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati.

Law and Public Safety Committee Chairman Christopher Smitherman had an observation on community participation.

"I hope that our community leadership will not throw tomatoes at our diligence of trying to get this right," Smitherman said.  "Because I've heard some of that chatter.  Our community partners need to understand that we're doing everything we can to protect everyone."

The city and the Fraternal Order of Police also developed a survey for police officers.  It was sent to more than 1,000 supervisors and officers to learn about areas of concerns and benefits.  Some 43 percent of those surveyed responded.

The city has also been "researching legal issues related to privacy concerns and public records requirement, including best practices of when to record, and application of Ohio Public Records Act to body camera video access and storage."

The city said once the body-worn cameras have all been deployed there will be a review of the program next January.

 

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