New Cincinnati police program to arm cops with cameras, catch crooks on tape

CINCINNATI -- A new gadget to fight crime will soon hit the streets, when the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) launches a program Monday to arm cops with cameras.

By wearing a small camera, police officers will be able to capture footage of encounters with crooks. Only a group of select officers will try out the program, who will attach the device onto their uniforms. If the program goes as CPD plans, the cameras will record the heat of the moment and evidence that could be crucial to a case.

"It's been proven empirically that body cameras improve peoples behavior," Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said. "Obviously the first use would be to help in criminal prosecution... domestic violence and other things like that."

He believes the cameras could also help cut back on violence.

"If we can work through some of the logistical issues of when to turn them on, how to store data and how to retrieve data... whether or not our officers feel comfortable with them," Blackwell said.

The program's test run is scheduled to last 30 days, when 12 officers will patrol a specific area of town, spanning from South Fairmount, through Cumminsville to Price Hill.

"Because of the activity that's pretty much consistent in District 3, we knew by putting cameras on officers in that district that we would get some good footage which we could gauge the product," Captain Terri Theetge said.

Two products will be included in the pilot program, including a camera from Taser International and one from ViewU. Each Taser camera costs about $4,000, while the ViewU device costs more than $8,000.

While funding is a concern for the agency, and will vary when the camera is turned on and off, Blackwell believes they could eventually keep the cameras rolling.

"Cops are reluctant to change, as most organizations are," he said. "But it's something we have a responsibility to at least explore to see if it can make us better. That's our goal."

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