Police not requesting funding for body cams in 2017 budget

North Ridgeville

By Michael Fitzpatrick

The North Ridgeville City Council’s finance committee held three days of meetings/hearings with various department heads as it planned out its 2017 budget.

Over three days, the heads of the different departments, such as fire, police, parks and recreation, appear in front of the committee and go over the money they are asking for and explain how it will be used.

Typically, police and fire budgets are the highest profile. The police department is asking for approximately $56,000 for items that ranged from Tasers to long guns. Additionally, the department is going to get five new Ford Explorers. Council, the administration, and police agreed it might be better to have five of the bigger, more durable and versatile vehicles instead of getting just two Explorers and two cars.

Police Chief Mike Freeman did not request funding for body cams. More and more departments have been outfitting its officers with cameras as a way of tracking the work of its officers. Episodes of deadly conflicts between police and civilians have brought on sentiment among some in the public that officers should be forced to wear them at all times.

While Freeman indicated he’s in favor of cameras and eventually sees North Ridgeville getting them, he does not want to do so until safeguards are put in place to make sure the city can respond to public records request from the use of the cameras. Freeman also mentioned a concern officers would struggle with: when to turn the cameras on and off.

Count City Councilwoman Roseanne Johnson as one who is surprised police don’t want to get them. She said her exposure to the cameras has come via cases caught on tape when the video cleared officers.

“You see it all the time,” Johnson said.

Grants could be used to pay for the cameras, but then the problems become storing the data the cameras record and who can access it.

Johnson said she was the only one on the panel who spoke out about the cameras.

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