Lima Council approves police body cameras

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — After a lengthy pilot program testing six different body camera models, the Lima Police Department is ready to advertise for body camera system proposals, which was approved unanimously during Lima City Council’s Monday night meeting.

The initial estimated cost for the body cameras to be worn by roughly 60 officers will be close to $300,000. The final cost will be determined by the proposals received by the city.

The pilot program was long but fruitful, Maj. James Barker, who presented the program’s results to the council, said. Outside of the six officers wearing the test cameras during patrol, police administrators spent countless hours interviewing members of different community organizations and governmental departments directly affected by body cameras — such as information technology (IT) specialists and the regional court system — to determine how to best fit the cameras into the justice system’s operations, Police Chief Kevin Martin said.

Body cameras should be received by the city within the next 60 to 90 days. The official proposal is still being written.

Lima City Council members praised the efforts of police to find the best model for the Lima Police Department’s needs.

“It was something we were looking forward to,” 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn said. “I was happy about the pace. Because I know there was some problems, and you took the time to fix the problems.”

“I would like to thank you first, because it was long overdue. … Cameras don’t wink. They don’t blink, and they don’t forget what they saw,” 5th Ward Councilman Jamie Dixon said.

Council President John Nixon, however, gave a warning to the wider public.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Nixon said. “This will give a true picture of what happens on the streets. When videos are observed, a lot of people can be frightened by what does happen and what officers truly face.”

Outside of the initial price, there may be subsequent costs as the justice system responds to some of the technical needs of the body cameras, Martin said. For example, the amount of data that the cameras produce for a roughly 60-person department may force the city to purchase increased digital storage, especially as administrators consider how much of a video backlog to keep. As for now, Martin said, they don’t expect to hire additional IT staff, but the court system may need an additional paralegal in the long run to deal with record requests by legal teams and the public.

Martin admitted that the selection process did take longer than expected, but choosing a system that didn’t fulfill the department needs would have been a bigger problem, especially when considering the potential price of the system.

“The truth of the matter is, we had to do our due diligence,” he said.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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