Chief Blackwell wants body cameras for all officers

Chief Blackwell wants body cameras for all officers
Published: Dec. 8, 2014 at 8:51 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM EST
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The success of a 90-day pilot program is giving Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell confidence to outfit all 600 police officers in uniform with a body camera.

"First it increases our transparency and it increases our professionalism. Complaints on officers go down somewhere between 65 and 80 percent," said Chief Blackwell during a city council meeting on Monday.

The past seven months Blackwell says Cincinnati PD has been doing its homework on body cameras. In the first academic study of body cameras worn by police officers in Rialto, California, use of force incidents declined by 59 percent and citizen complaints reduced by 87.5 percent.

It will cost the city between $500,000 to $1.8 million to implement a body camera program for the department. Chief Blackwell hopes to get half of the cost covered by the federal government. He is traveling to Washington D.C. this week to make the request.

Policy is being created to determine how often the camera footage will be stored and logistics, like when the cameras would be turned on.

Despite Blackwell's rave reviews of body cameras he admits there are some issues that will need to be considered.

"You absolutely do not want your officers to find a button or turn something on when every moment may count. So I don't want my officers to divert their attention away from a suspect or a high profile deadly scenario because they feel the need to turn the camera on," he said.

Police Specialist Yvonne Gutapfel tested the body cameras on six of her shifts and says she's skeptical.

"Skeptical in that it was something else I was going to have to take care of, have to maintain, keep charged, didn't really change anything though," she said.

Gutapfel says she doesn't think the cameras will change the behavior of her and her co-workers or the people they police judging by her experience on the job.

"We have people that are out of control in a McDonalds and they know they are on camera, and we will tell them, you know everything is on camera, and they won't care. So I don't think us having a body camera is going to make them law abiding citizens," she said.

Police agencies across the country are requesting the results from Cincinnati's pilot program, looking to follow Cincinnati Police Department and its push for officers to wear body cameras.

Once Cincinnati PD gets the funding for the body cameras, police will be outfitted with them one to two months after.

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