By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Officers in the Grove City Division of Police will start to use body-worn cameras.
At the Sept. 7 meeting, Grove City Council approved an ordinance to enter into an agreement with Utility Inc. for the cameras. The agreement will fit 64 officers with body-worn cameras and 22 police cruisers with cameras. The cost is just over $600,000 for six years of service.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, body-worn cameras can be a highly effective resource, providing audio and visual record of interactions that capture evidence in the event of a crime, police and citizen interaction, or a use-of-force incident. It is an effort to enhance transparency of police operations and ensure accountability.
Many police agencies across the nation have already employed the use body-worn cameras. Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city has held off on utilizing the cameras because officials were anticipating regulations or guidelines from the state of Ohio.
“We’ve been patient on purpose,” said Stage. “The police officers are looking forward to this. That’s a win-win for everybody.”
According to Grove City Police Chief Richard Butsko, the body-worn cameras feature an automatic start. If the camera senses an officer is running, it will start recording and alerts all officers that a foot pursuit is in progress. The body-worn camera will also be integrated into the uniform.
“This means in a struggle, they (the cameras) won’t fall off. This is more automated than other systems,” said Butsko.
The police chief said the system has a holster trigger, meaning as soon as an officer draws his/her weapon, the camera will activate.
“That is a very significant feature,” said Butsko.
In addition, the system can be programmed based on geography. For example, if the division of police would like a record of all interactions that take place at the retail center on Stringtown Road, that can be programmed. So anytime an officer enters that area, the camera will start recording.
According to Butsko, the data will be kept in a cloud with Utility Inc. He said the data will be secured and the city will have unlimited data storage. Redaction software is included to balance the need for community transparency with respecting the privacy of victims.
Butsko said a committee of officers reviewed the product and showed “overwhelming support” for it.
The city anticipates receiving the cameras and supporting infrastructure by the year’s end.
The body-worn cameras should be in use in early 2022.