Sunbury police chief says body cameras valuable policing tools

Sunbury Police Department uses body cameras. This version attaches to an ear piece of glasses.

SUNBURY, Ohio (WCMH) –The Sunbury Police Department has been using body cameras for more than two and a half years.

Chief Patrick Bennett said they have eight cameras and are looking to add more when their contract with Taser expires.

The department picked body cameras over installing new cruiser cameras just after the recession.

“I wanted to invest in technology to see if we could just bypass the car and go straight to the body,” said Chief Bennett. “We did some sample tests and found it was very doable.”

Sunbury Police Department uses body cameras. This version attaches to an ear piece of glasses.
Sunbury Police Department uses body cameras. This version attaches to an ear piece or glasses.

 

It’s an investment that costs the department around $9,000 a year. Taser offered them the switch if they agreed to store footage on the company’s server.

Sunbury Police quickly upload body camera footage to secure server at the end of their shift.
Sunbury Police quickly upload body camera footage to secure server at the end of their shift.

 

The City of Columbus faces a steeper bill. Some estimates put the costs of outfitting the Columbus Police Department near $15 million.

But Council President Andrew Ginther said the body cameras will happen by the end of 2016.

“We felt that this is an additional step to a more comprehensive approach to enhance and protect the sacred trust between an officer and the community,” said Ginther during a Wednesday’s press conference.

Chief Bennett said the cameras have proved invaluable when investigating crimes.

“We videotape basically a whole accident scene now. And we use them for just about everything in our job,” said Bennett. “We try to use it as a training guide too. We go back and teach young officers where they should stand on a traffic stop.”

Not everyone is happy with Ginther’s plan to bring body cameras to Columbus.

Jason Pappas is president of FOP Lodge #9 which represents Columbus officers. He is concerned about costs and privacy for victims.

“I don’t think it makes officers or a community any safer. Officers react the way they were trained, public reacts the way they interact with law enforcement,” said Pappas.

A committee to faith leaders, police officers and community leaders will guide Columbus officials in designing a body camera program.

Chief Bennett said his officers were a bit hesitant to use them, but now embrace them as essential tools of the job.

“As they got used to them and went out and did their job, none of them want to work without them,” said Bennett

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