$10 million proposed for police body cameras


By Farnoush Amiri - Report for America/Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Hundreds of law enforcement agencies in Ohio will be able to buy body-worn cameras through a $10 million grant Gov. Mike DeWine proposed Wednesday in his budget.

“My goal is for every police officer in the state of Ohio to have a body camera,” DeWine said during a briefing. “I think it protects the police. It protects the public and it’s good to have that transparency.”

He added, “It is the right thing to do.”

As of February, only 183 of the state’s about 900 law enforcement agencies both have body cameras for officers and are following the standards set by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, DeWine said.

The governor said the cost of the camera technology, storing the footage it produces and even hiring personnel to fill public records request for it is expensive for midsize and rural police departments and sheriff’s offices.

The $10 million grant under DeWine’s proposed two-year, $75 billion budget for the business year beginning in July comes after two high-profile police shootings in Columbus in December.

Both the cases of Andre Hill, fatally shot by a Columbus police officer, and Casey Goodson Jr., fatally shot by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy, shed light on the issue of body-worn cameras in use-of-force cases, especially against Black people.

DeWine, who did not speak on either of the cases, said the agencies eligible for the grant must also follow the state’s standard for body cameras by using them properly and turning them on when coming in contact with a suspect where force might be used.

He added, “The public has more confidence and trust in the criminal justice system when officers are wearing them.”

The governor also laid out his plans to allocate $1 million to diversify agencies so that officers “reflect the communities they serve.”

There will also be $8 million set aside to establish and support investigation centers that will focus on cellphones and other evidence of firearm crimes. The budget also contained continued funding to support task forces and other efforts to counter drug trafficking in Ohio.

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Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

By Farnoush Amiri

Report for America/Associated Press