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Franklin County to purchase body cameras for sheriff’s deputies

The cameras are to be activated at all times during any law enforcement activity such as responding for service, interacting with residents and traffic stops.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a contract Tuesday morning to purchase body cameras for the county’s 565 certified deputy sheriffs and the policy which will outline their use.

The contract is for just over $2.5 million with WatchGuard Video. The money to buy the cameras is being made available by the commissioners from the county’s general fund.

“The Sheriff's Office is grateful to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for supporting Body Worn Cameras,” said Sheriff Dallas Baldwin. “I have strongly advocated for cameras because I believe they provide transparency and ensure accountability.  In our effort to build a bridge of trust between law enforcement and the community, this is an important step forward.”

The cameras will be the Motorola Watchguard V300 model with a 4K video sensor, 1080p resolution, dual microphones, and built-in WiFi and GPS.

According to the press release, deputies will wear the cameras at all times while on duty, including while in civilian clothes unless undercover, except for a few designated times such as when in the county’s jail facilities.

The cameras are to be activated at all times during any law enforcement activity such as responding to calls for service, interacting with residents and traffic stops.

They will also be equipped with a lookback feature that will capture video and audio prior to being activated to record events that occur suddenly or before the deputy had a chance to activate the camera.

“Nothing is more important to the operation of a fair and effective criminal justice system than the belief in the community that officers are held to a high standard and that the law is enforced equally,” said Commissioner John O’Grady. “These cameras will help us reinforce that mutual trust and respect between deputies and our residents.”

Body camera footage will be stored according to the county’s record retention policy and will be subject to Ohio public records law. The videos can be made available to the public upon request, according to the release.

“As with a lot of things, the devil is in the details when it comes to how these cameras are employed, when videos are to be redacted or released, and how our deputies are expected to use them,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce.  “We’ve worked hard with the sheriff’s office and county prosecutor to carefully craft a policy that I think protects the privacy of residents and deputies and will ensure transparency about the cameras, recordings, and how they will be used or made public.”

The county will hold public town hall meetings later this year to introduce the cameras, demonstrate their use and answer questions.

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