Sunbury council gives nod to portable police cameras
Video cameras will train eye on suspects, keep police officers accountable
Sunbury police are being armed with advanced technology to help fight crime following action by Village Council during its meeting Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Council members approved spending up to $21,500 over the next three years to buy state-of-the-art miniature video cameras.
The cameras, which would provide better video coverage than dash-mounted cameras in police cruisers, can record everything from traffic stops to domestic violence calls. The cameras also have audio capability.
Police will receive three Axon Flex cameras, which are small enough to be attached to eyewear, caps and other parts of a police uniform. The $1,000 cameras are made by the Taser company.
Police Chief Pat Bennett told council members Aug. 7 that, based on the contract with Taser, the village would spend about $4,000 in the first year, $10,000 the second year and the rest in the third year.
Much of the cost in the final two years is for storage of video on Taser servers. All police video could be stored by Taser and retrieved via its website when needed, such as for court cases. Other costs involve setting up the program and installing software.
Police officers field-tested the Axon Flex cameras for 30 days earlier this summer, along with other brands.
"We looked at other cameras, but they were poorer quality," Bennett said. "We went though a whole testing phase" with the Axon.
"It really went well," he said.
Having three cameras will provide coverage for all three police shifts.
Bennett told council members at a meeting in May that the whole process is about accountability -- both of the officers' conduct as well as detailing suspects' actions.
Square too cluttered?
Also at last week's meeting, Mayor Tommy Hatfield told council he would like to see a committee created to look at how the Town Square should be maintained.
Currently, there is a war memorial, a statue, benches and various plants to go along with several large trees on the square. A statue of Civil War Gen. William S. Rosecrans is to be installed in late September.
"We have the nicest green or square of anywhere in Ohio," Hatfield said. "We definitely have a crown jewel and we should protect it."
Hatfield made his comments in response to remarks from Councilman Joe Gochenour, who said he had an inquiry about having a $30,000 bandstand installed on the square.
"My thought on this is I'd like to see it done in brick so it's permanent," Gochenour said.
Councilman Dave Miller said there should be further discussion about the bandstand, and Hatfield suggested creating a committee.
"I'd really like to see, whether its parks or a separate committee, to talk about what goes on on the square so we have some guidelines," Hatfield said. "I want a plan so (the square) doesn't become cluttered."
Village Solicitor David Brehm suggested the council parks committee form a subcommittee to look into the matter.
Poll workers needed
Karla Herron, director of the Delaware County Board of Elections, and other elections officials gave a presentation last week asking council to support a coordinated effort to bring in more local poll workers.
Sunbury has four precincts and about 20 workers for each election. Only half of the workers are from Sunbury.
A program focusing on local officials using the village website, advertising and other methods to attract more workers from Sunbury was discussed.
Sunbury was the fifth community in which elections officials have made the same presentation. The county has 143 precincts and needs about 1,000 poll workers for each election.