Jan 26, 2022 - News

Grants to pay for Ohio police body cameras

Illustration of a police hat with a badge shaped like a video camera icon.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

State grant funding will pay for more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Ohio to launch or maintain body camera systems for officers, including numerous departments in Franklin County.

Why it matters: Body cameras enforce officer transparency and assist with accurate investigations, but can be cost-prohibitive for smaller departments without funding help.

State of play: There has been a renewed push locally for body cameras after former Franklin County sheriff's deputy Jason Meade shot and killed Columbus resident Casey Goodson Jr. under disputed circumstances in late 2020.

  • The county commissioners earmarked $2.5 million weeks after the shooting toward purchasing cameras for deputies, but they've yet to be installed 13 months later.
  • An additional $232,000 in grant funding will help pay for video equipment expected to arrive in the next few months, sheriff's spokesperson Maureen Kocot tells Axios.

What they're saying: "We're getting close and we're very excited," Kocot says of the effort to supply the nearly 700 deputies with cameras.

  • "No one wants body cameras more than Sheriff (Dallas) Baldwin."

Zoom in: Six other law enforcement agencies in Franklin County will receive a combined $322,000 toward launching body cameras.

  • Like the sheriff's office, Hilliard was already planning to install body cameras for its 62 police officers.
  • This grant will allow the city to recoup around one-third of its costs, police spokesperson Andrea Litchfield tells Axios.
  • Obetz, Grove City, Upper Arlington, Whitehall and Blendon Twp. are also receiving grants, according to the governor's office.

The big picture: There is no law requiring Ohio police officers to wear body cameras, though a state lawmaker representing northeast Columbus wants to change that.

  • Rep. Dontavius Jarrells sponsored a bill last summer to require cameras be worn and enact guidelines for public disclosure of recordings following allegations of police misconduct.
  • Nearly seven months after being introduced, the bill has yet to receive an initial committee hearing.
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