COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Superintendent Col. Richard Fambro announced plans Tuesday to outfit every trooper in Ohio with a body-worn camera.
DeWine directed OSHP to invest in body cameras to better protect Ohio's troopers, aid in crime scene and accident scene documentation, and support the Patrol's ongoing commitment to public transparency.
The distribution and installation of 1,550 new body cameras and 1,221 new in-car systems began this month.
"The Patrol has been using in-car cameras for decades, but as technology continues to advance, body cameras have become an essential tool for policing," DeWine said. "By investing in these cameras, we're not only giving our troopers the tools they need to better protect the public, but we're also giving the public another reason to have confidence in the professionalism of the Ohio State Highway Patrol."
Knox County troopers are in the Columbus District which is scheduled to be outfitted this month.
The Richland County posts in Mansfield and Bucyrus are in the Bucyrus District, which will be outfitted in March 2022.
The Ashland post is in the Cleveland District, which will be outfitted in February 2022.
The new OSHP body cameras will link to the new in-car systems to ensure that all cameras record simultaneously when lights and sirens are activated.
The systems, which are being installed first in districts with the oldest current in-car cameras, are expected to be fully installed at all OSHP districts by May 2022.
"Today’s announcement is another example of our commitment to transparency," Col. Fambro said. "Our troopers have been working in front of a camera for over 20 years.
"The addition of body worn cameras is an enhancement to our current video capabilities."
Body-worn cameras have become a key tool for law enforcement in recent years to accurately document arrests, critical incidents, and other interactions with the public.
The cameras also allow for detailed documentation of crime and crash scenes, enhance the accuracy of incident reports and court testimony, and help to improve community-police relations.
OSHP staff evaluated multiple camera systems based on audio and video quality, ease of use, and compatibility with the current network interface.
The total cost for the camera package, which includes equipment, storage, installation, maintenance, training, and other operational costs, is approximately $15 million over the next five years. The expense is being paid for through OSHP's operating budget.
To help other law enforcement agencies with costs associated with body cameras, Governor DeWine launched the new Ohio Body-Worn Camera Grant Program in September.
The program, which was funded as part of the 2022-2023 operating budget that was passed by the Ohio General Assembly in June, allots $10 million toward helping local law enforcement agencies invest in body camera equipment and pay for associated expenses such as video storage and public record management personnel.
The first round of local grant awards is expected to be announced before the end of the year.