Smile, Reynoldsburg: You're on camera.
The Reynoldsburg Division of Police rolled out body cameras to all patrol officers and supervisors May 11, Chief David Plesich said.
City Council in January unanimously approved $38,000 for 50 body cameras and related equipment, including video storage, from Kustom Signals Inc., which is a subsidiary of MPD Inc., based in Owensboro, Kentucky.
"The quality of the video is fantastic. We're very pleased with the ruggedness of the unit that we chose," said Plesich, who said a magnet on the back of the camera helps keep it in place.
Before starting their workday, officers will be required to test the camera.
Cameras are activated by the officers and should be recording during calls for service involving citizen interaction, traffic and crime interdiction stops and "all enforcement and investigative contacts, including stops and field interview situations," according to the department's policy.
Officers should "remain sensitive to the dignity of all individuals being recorded and exercise discretion to respect their privacy by discontinuing recording whenever it reasonably appears to the (officer) that such privacy could outweigh any legitimate law enforcement interest in recording. Requests by members of the public to stop recording should be considered using the same criterion. Recording should resume when privacy is no longer at issue unless the circumstances no longer fit the criteria for recording," the policy states.
All patrol officers were briefed on the department's policy and trained in the camera's operation, Plesich said.
"We want our cameras recording anytime there is potential for evidence capture or conflict capture. Our officers provide caring service, they attempt to de-escalate conflicts, they perform under dangerous conditions and they respond appropriately to violent assaults. We want the public to see how our officers do their jobs," Plesich said. "We expect the public will be very pleased that our officers are doing the right things for the right reasons."
Recordings involving felony offenses will be retained by the department for 10 years, according to the policy. Those involving municipal or mayor's court will be retained for six years, and traffic offenses will be kept for three years.
Officers' rescue of eight ducklings from a storm drain outside of a recruiting event at New Albany High School was among the first events captured by Reynoldsburg's new cameras. The cameras allow officers to more accurately complete reports and are often invaluable in terms of evidence, Plesich said.
"They allow juries to see crime scenes in a way that they are seen by responding officers. They show conditions under the same lighting, while the officer is moving, and with an element of timing," he said. "An officer may only have a second or two to view a situation, as opposed to a jury normally looking at a photo or hearing a description of a scene. Now, the jury may get a better sense of the situation because they will see how quickly an incident progressed."
Reynoldsburg police respond to an average of 120 calls each day, according to department statistics.