Input sought for Columbus body camera plans


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Council has asked for public input on a plan to equip all city police officers with body worn cameras. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.

Earlier this summer, Columbus police officers field tested a number of different versions of body cameras. In addition to the equipment the city needs policies on when and how to the cameras will be used.

Central Ohio resident Chuck Palmer likes the transparency and accountability that body cameras can provide. “The use of body cameras feels like an extension of government transparency and control,” Palmer said. “It’s access to the behavior of police officers….it feels like access to transparency and it seems right.”

One argument in favor of body cameras is that a video record of events will help rebuild trust between police and the public.

Edgar Labra, a 20 year old construction worker, says “trust is a must” but he’s not so sure about body cameras. “I don’t know, I don’t think they’re necessary,”Labra said. “I think personally that we should just trust officers to do the right thing.”

In the wake of last week’s police involved shooting of 13-year-old Tyre King, Mayor Andrew Ginther reaffirmed the city’s intention of having body cameras for police officers by the beginning of next year. “It’s a technology we believe can really help continue to improve and increase safety here in Columbus and that’s why it’s such a high priority for us,” Ginther said.

Local businessman Leon Lewis agrees and hopes the new city policies will lean in the direction of using the body cameras in all cases.

“I don’t think we should leave discretion for an individual,” Lewis said. “In my opinion I just think it should be activated immediately… whenever there’s an encounter whatever that encounter may be.”

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