Cincinnati Police to Equip Officers with Body Cameras

Cincinnati’s 600-strong uniformed police force will eventually be equipped with body cameras after a seven-month pilot program involving West Side officers wrapped up last week.

Cincinnati’s 600-strong uniformed police force will eventually be equipped with body cameras after a seven-month pilot program involving West Side officers wrapped up last week.

Cincinnati’s body camera program will cost anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million depending on which vendor the city chooses. Cincinnati City Council’s Law and Public Safety committee has pledged to help find funds, and Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell will be making a trip to Washington to ask the federal government for some of the money as well.

Officers involved in the pilot program have varying opinions of the cameras. While some are on board, others expressed concerns about the cameras’ technical abilities and privacy for victims of crime. The Fraternal Order of Police, the police officer’s union, has yet to decide if it will support the cameras.

“This needs to be an informed decision,” president Kathy Harrell told The Cincinnati Enquirer Dec 8. “There is a concern that there is a big misconception that they will catch every part of what an officer does and that’s not the case.”

Activists around the country are calling for more police accountability in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed black citizens, including Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Blackwell has said he thinks a body camera could have helped in Ferguson, where conflicting eyewitness accounts differed on the actions of officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson earlier this month. Some activists have called for federal rules requiring police to wear body cameras, and President Barack Obama last week announced a plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help equip police departments with the technology.