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Editorial: A step forward for policing in Ohio


A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

Body cameras will soon take a place as an essential part of the gear carried by Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers. That move, announced by Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday, continues his push to get body cameras to all law enforcement agencies in the state.

That goal is well worth the cost and training involved.

There’s still a long way to go getting body cameras for all departments statewide, but equipping 1,550 on the road officers in the state patrol can make a difference.

Body cameras can play an outsized role in police-reform efforts.

Now the governor and the General Assembly must continue to move forward on plans to equip all troopers with body cameras.

The price tag for equipping the troopers stands at $15 million — the cameras themselves also need to be hooked up to the other cameras in each police cruiser.

Those funds will, in the long run, save money. That’s true for the state police and for city and county departments.

How so?

By documenting police interactions with suspects and the public the costs of litigation over allegations against police can be resolved. If the allegation is false, that will be obvious.

If true, a violation of law or procedure by officers is recorded and should lead to a quick settlement. And yes, the cameras may deter bad apples among law enforcement officers.

Actions or words by a suspect, too, may provide evidence for police and prosecutors of wrongdoing.

Yet, deploying body cameras isn’t primarily about catching officers violating laws or procedures. It documents the reality of what happened during a particular interaction. They protect all sides involved by providing an unbiased look at precisely what occurred during a traffic stop or arrest.

The cameras also give another angle for the public to see an officer’s conduct besides a video shot on someone’s cell phone.

The next step is funding to expand body cameras for law enforcement throughout the state.

The state allocated $10 million in June for local departments. The requests for funding, at $16 million and counting, outstrip the money available. The costs add up because not only is a camera purchased and integrated with existing equipment, but police must have the means to store the data.

Those costs can be high and the governor acknowledged that’s one reason many local departments don’t have body cameras. Mr. DeWine said he’s working on additional funding possibilities with the General Assembly.

Adding funding for local departments for body cameras can carry forward the positive moves already in place to expand the use of cameras to all law enforcement officers.

Body cameras remain an excellent tool for police reform and the protection of officers and the public.

— Toledo Blade, Nov. 25, 2021.