Columbus to invest in new body cameras for police officers


Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced a nearly $19 million investment to equip Columbus police officers with cutting-edge technology for body-worn cameras (BWC) and in-car cameras.

Technological advancements will allow higher-quality audio and video, automatic activation to safeguard against user error, synchronization between body-worn and in-car cameras, and video recall abilities as far back as 24 hours prior to an incident.

“This next generation of body-worn cameras will improve our understanding of an encounter, and of each other, when events unfold at lightning speed – sometimes in the midst of great chaos and confusion – and when a thorough and objective assessment is required to determine the facts,” said Ginther.

As a result of the collective bargaining agreement the city secured last year with the Fraternal Order of Police, the following changes have been adopted within the body-worn camera policy:

•Automated activation: allows camera to be turned on without manual interaction
•Pre-event recording: allows for audio/video lookback of up to two minutes prior to camera activation
•Video recall: allows the director of public safety to order the review of audio and video recordings up to 24 hours prior to a critical incident.

The next generation of video technology advancements will incorporate, in-whole or in-part, these contractual advancements. The agreement with Axon Camera Systems includes features that will significantly improve the Columbus Division of Police’s ability to capture, identify, store, and share audio and video content. The Axon 3 camera is designed to:
•Reduce motion and blur
•Utilize four microphones which balance themselves to capture clearer audio
•Synchronize BWC and in-car camera video feeds (allows for automated activation, overlapping views and automatic video tagging)
•Captures audio and video content two minutes prior to activation
•BWCs can recall video up to 18 hours following an incident; in-car cameras can recall video up to 24 hours following an incident
•In-car cameras include license plate readers to improve officers’ situational awareness
Body-worn cameras will automatically activate when:
•An officer’s weapon is removed from his or her utility belt
•A cruiser’s lights/sirens are activated
•A rifle/shotgun rack are released
•A cruiser accelerates to a high rate of speed
•A cruiser is involved in a collision

As part of the contract, Axon will provide 2,105 body-worn cameras and 450 in-car cameras equipped with license plate readers.

“The arrival of this next-generation technology in Columbus is a win for accountability and transparency, it’s a win for building trust with our community, and it’s a win for officer safety,” said Director of Public Safety Robert Clark.

Training and deployment of the new equipment will begin in June and be completed by March 31, 2023. The total cost is $18.9 million over five years.

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