ASHLAND — Ashland City Council allocated up to $120,000 for the purchase of body-worn cameras for its 30 sworn officers on Tuesday.
“In today’s day and age, our job is to get to the truth,” said Captain Craig Kiley. “And you know, sometimes, you get different versions and small clips.”
Kiley, who has been working on getting the division body cameras since before he was promoted to the captain position in October, believes the cameras will help promote safety in Ashland.
The police division applied for a grant last fall through the Ohio Body-Worn Camera Grant Program that legislators passed as part of the biennium budget in June. The program allotted $5 million for 2022, the program’s first year, and another $5 million for 2023.
Ashland was not awarded the grant when the program’s 109 departments were announced in January. But Chief Dave Lay and Mayor Matt Miller, at the time, said the city would move forward with a body-worn camera program anyway.
Each camera, provide by Minnesota-based Getac Video Solutions, only cost around $500, Kiley said. The cost adds up when you add a yearly $17,500 warranty, the cost of training staff how to use them, integrating software and buying other accessories like mounts and chargers.
The money for the program will mostly come out of the Police 60 Fund, which is designated for equipping officers.
Some of the program’s cost, however, will be covered by a $30,000 donation from the Norma Foundation, the same organization that helped fund the department’s K-9 program.
Miller said body-worn cameras is the way of the future for law enforcement.
“It’s not only to protect citizens, but officers quite frankly,” he said.
Council President Steve Workman, who recently served on jury duty, said having video footage of police work will be handy in trials and court cases.
“I was on jury duty and the case, which involved police, they didn’t have film or anything. Had there been, I probably wouldn’t have had to serve…so it certainly has its place,” Workman said.
Kiley hopes to place the order for the cameras and related equipment soon. He said they should arrive to the station in the next six to eight weeks. Then the department will undergo training, he said, which will be provided by a retired police chief whose agency used Getac cameras before.
Kiley, who bought his own body-worn camera years ago as a patrol officer, believes in the program.
“Everybody’s human, everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “Someone might not recall the situation happening that way. This way, we can pull it up and refer to it whenever there’s a question.”
He said the division can use certain footage for training purposes, too.
State law does not require police officers to inform people they are being recorded, Kiley said, but the cameras will be visible.
In terms of the policies surrounding officers’ usage of body-worn cameras — such as when and in what circumstances the cameras are to be on or off — those policies are still being reviewed by him and Lay.
“We’re still reviewing and looking at the policy,” he said, adding the department has been using two cameras during a demo phase to develop best practices for the last few months.
He said the department is also looking at the possibility of installing dash cameras in police vehicles in the future, too. He did not have a timeframe on that program.