Westerville City Council approved a motion May 7 to purchase body cameras for the Westerville Police Department.

The department will begin using the cameras in mid-July, according to Christa Dickey, spokeswoman for the city.

Acting police Chief Charles Chandler said body cameras are something the department has been discussing since 2014.

He said the department decided to wait on purchasing body cameras because the state legislature had not addressed body cameras until House Bill 425, which made body-camera and dash-camera video public records except in certain cases. HB 425 was passed last year and became effective April 8.

"I think we've been taking our time and been prudent," he said.

Chandler said 32 in-car cameras, 90 body-worn cameras, 10 spare cameras and cameras for interview rooms would be purchased. The department had a budget of $260,000, which was carried over from 2018.

The purchase price from Axon Enterprises, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is $210,000.

Council member Valarie Cumming asked about accountability when it comes to the officers' use and control of cameras.

"The camera is recording all of the time," Chandler said. "It doesn't mark and give you visuals until an incident occurs. I think as supervisors, we are going to be able to see if someone shut off their body camera at a moment when they shouldn't shut off their body camera."

Council member Tim Davey asked about the concern of the cameras slowing reaction time in an emergency.

Chandler said he didn't know how it would be possible to gather that data and had not seen any research on reaction times.

"I haven't been made aware of any research that it can make the response times of an officer quicker or slower," he said.

City Council approved the authorization 7-0.

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