Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) superintendent Col. Richard Fambro announced on Nov. 23 that every trooper working on the roads will be equipped with a body camera by May 2022.
The dashboards and sides of state highway patrol vehicles have had cameras since 2000, and the body units are expected to “add another angle” as law enforcement agencies are adding them as “another tool in the toolbox” as technology evolves, Fambro said Nov. 23.
The body camera project, which already is in effect, costs $15 million overall, and covers the cost of installing the integrated camera system that activates when a vehicle’s flashing lights come on, storage of data, and training.
There will be 1,500 body cameras and 1,200 new in-car systems added to the department, DeWine said. Officers were wearing the cameras as recently as the Ohio State University football game last week.
“We want our officers to have the best equipment and technology,” DeWine said at the OSHP Academy in Columbus on Nov. 23. “That way, we are able to help keep them safe and the public safe.
“Body cameras are becoming a standard tool in policing. They are a first-person account of a traffic stop, crash scene, and crime scene. They will enhance the accuracy of reports.”
DeWine’s announcement of the plan came two days before Thanksgiving, which is expected to see the most motorists on the road between Nov. 24 and Nov. 28 since 2005—an estimated 2.2 million people.
Many would-be travelers stayed home, or had smaller gatherings, for the holiday last year due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.
The Columbus district will be the first to receive the body cameras in the first phase of distribution, Wilmington will be second, Cambridge third and Piqua fourth, followed by Jackson and Cleveland.
The last two districts to get them will be Findlay and then state police headquarters in Columbus, DeWine said.
During the press conference, the governor was asked if the decision to move forward with the body cameras stemmed from the riots and damage done to the Statehouse in the state’s capital in 2020.
He said it did not. “This is just part of the best policing practices today.”
Fambro said he was one of the first state troopers to test the in-car system back in 2000, and the cameras would “add another angle” to traffic stops and scenes.
“The in-car systems had some limitations. This adds another level of transparency, and we welcome that.”
Fambro said field troopers and officers, Motor Carrier Enforcement units and supervisors, OSHP police officers, agents, and assistant agents-in-charge in the Ohio Investigative Unit will be required to wear cameras.
He went on to say that state troopers have interacted with at least three million motorists at three million traffic stops.
More body camera funds could be on the way for smaller law enforcement agencies who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise.
In September, Gov. DeWine announced a $5 million grant was available to help local law enforcement agencies invest in body camera equipment and pay for associated expenses.
“Body cameras are beneficial for peace officers and the public because they act as impartial eyes on events as they transpire, but most law enforcement agencies in Ohio don’t have them because they can’t afford them,” the governor said.
“One of my top priorities has always been ensuring that our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to best serve the public, and this new grant program will help eliminate the cost barriers associated with body-worn cameras and will contribute to a safer Ohio,” DeWine added.
He said he hoped to announce recipients of the first round of grants by the end of the year and speak to the General Assembly about additional funds for other law enforcement agencies.