When a Portsmouth Police Officer is called to an investigation or makes a traffic stop, chances are they will be equipped with not only in-car cameras but a body camera as well.
Portsmouth City Council approved a measure Monday evening allowing the police chief to accept a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) in the amount of $10,377.00 to purchase body cameras for some of the officers. The city will be required to match the grant with an additional $1,037.70 for a total of $11,414.70. Council waived the three reading rule and passed the measure on an emergency basis.
The city also received a grant in the amount of $26,141.66 from JAG for in-car camera equipment. The city’s match on this grant will be $26,141.66 for a total of $52,283.33. The city also approved this measure in emergency, waiving the three readings.
A separate fund was set up by the city to administer each of these funds. According to Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware, the funding will supply about six more vehicles as well as provide body cameras for about six officers. Ware said he has 42 officers, each with a unit, saying eventually they will all be equipped with body cameras and in-car cameras.
” I fully support the body camera,” said Portsmouth Mayor Kevin Johnson.”Anything that will help our employees do their job, I fully support.”
Johnson said the cameras will provide a safety measure for both police and the public. He said it is like having another set of eyes for the police department.
Ware agreed saying technology is a valuable tool in law enforcement. He said it will allow his staff to see multiple angles when a situation occurs. Ware said he already has some in-car cameras and will gradually add new cameras until 100 percent of his force has both in-car and body cameras. He noted the city match is from money seized in drug forfeitures.
The grants are made possible through the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Office of Criminal Justice Services. The grant is administered on a reimbursement basis and must be used for equipment by the police department only.
“It will be very important to us in that we will be able to look at a situation in multiple perspectives,” Ware said. “Multiple angles stand a better chance of us capturing an entire event.”
Ware noted training is a huge advantage for a law enforcement officer. But he said technology is also important in today’s world where they now have the ability to go back and look at the scene via video. “There’s only so much the human eye can process, Ware said. “Cameras can fill in the details of of an event.”