Cincinnati to ask for federal funding for police body cameras
The hope is that the body cameras will help police avoid deadly encounters, such as what happened in Ferguson, New York, and in Beavercreek (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Gordon Graham)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
Cincinnati city manager Harry Black says he will apply for a federal grant to equip police officers with body cameras.
The hope is that the devices will help police avoid deadly encounters, such as what happened in Ferguson, New York, and in Beavercreek.
City councilman Christopher Smitherman says the $700,000 federal grant will allow Cincinnati police to join the ranks of other law enforcement agencies that have embraced body cameras as a way to protect citizens against abusive police and the police officers themselves against lawsuits.
“The cameras actually protect them more than they protect even the citizens because we're able to gather information about that exchange,” Smitherman said.
Smitherman, who sits on city council's public safety committee, says body camera provide an unbiased witness of an officer's actions.
“When the officer leaves the cruiser and is on a chase, is going into an apartment in close quarters that we'll be able to get what is actually happening,” Smitherman said.
Legal analyst, Mike Allen, says body cameras can protect the officer against legal action.
“If you have a video account of an encounter with a citizen who accuses you of something down the road and you did nothing wrong if you're the officer you have an account of that and it's been proven in other cities that it has cleared officers,” Allen said.
Allen says the devices also encourage good behavior.
“If the person that the police officer is interacting with knows that he's being filmed it's just human nature that that person is going to conduct themselves in a more civil manner. It's another thing that they found in studies and the department of justice did a pretty thorough one,” Allen said.
If body cameras actually encourage civility between the police and public and reduce lawsuits, city officials say the devices will be well worth the price.
The city's request comes after President Obama's pledge of $75 million in federal funds set aside to help local and state police departments purchase up to 50,000 body cameras nationwide over the next three years.