COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus police could be wearing body cameras by the end of the year.
On August 2, 30 Columbus police officers started testing body cameras. Those officers in traffic bureaus and patrol are testing six models along with an eyeglass version from six different vendors.
The question still remains from which vendor will the city purchase the cameras.
Estimates from a committee called City of Columbus Body Worn Camera Committee shows more than 1,400 officers out of the 1,900 on the police force could be equipped with body cameras with 18 months.
Public records requested from the city show in 2015 police received 1.3 million calls for service. Of those, 6,102 were shots fired, 5,695 were person with a gun calls, and 16 incidents in which an officer discharged his or her firearm at a suspect.
By the end of 2016, Columbus will join other major cities around the country with body-worn-cameras (BWCs). A study shows 95 percent of large police departments have committed to or implemented BWCs.
The committee is charged with several missions including when the cameras are to operate, and be turned off. Along with which video can be publicly viewed or requested.
Public hearings have been held to hear public concerns and recommendations. Columbus police will also have to agree to the requirements through union negotiations through the city.
Two people affected by gun violence in Columbus have different opinions on what is needed.
Felicia Saunders son Anthony was murdered 8 years ago this week, she said the money could be better spent.
“We should not be spending money on police cameras when we don’t have proper recreation centers, summer jobs for the children to go to where they can interact with police,” Saunders said.
Terry “Nunnie”Green is the organizer for a youth antiviolence summit Called ‘Think Make Live’ and he said body cameras are needed.
“I think it is very necessary, very necessary, because it is tangible evidence, evidence that can be utilized in different investigations as far as police brutality and other important investigations,” he said.
Columbus traffic officer Robert Barrett has been on the force 25 years. He is also one of the officers testing the body cameras. “I believe it benefits everybody, not only law enforcement but also the citizens of Columbus. We are moving into the next generation of law enforcement,” Officer Barrett said
At present the projected direct costs are $8.49 million with eight phases used to roll the equipment out to different units within Columbus police. These numbers do not include the cost for manpower when thousands of hours of video might need to be reviewed and public records requests are filled.