Ohio Sheriff's Body Cam Upgrades Allow Easier Video Sharing

The Stark County, Ohio, Sheriff has been using body-worn cameras for about five years, but on a limited basis. A program expansion gives each officer their own camera and allows for faster sharing with prosecutors.

by Lori Steineck, The Repository / March 5, 2019
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights worked with Upturn on an updated scorecard Tuesday that evaluates the civil rights safeguards of police body-worn camera programs in 75 U.S. cities. lawofficer.com

(TNS) — The Stark County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office will now be able to send video and photographic evidence of crime scenes directly to the prosecutor's office and the courts via the new body camera system.

Each of Sheriff George T. Maier's 70 deputies has been individually outfitted with body cameras worn on the shoulder and tethered to the handheld emergency radios they typically wear. The deputies can also speak into the cameras.

"The body cameras are an intelligence gathering and reporting mechanism," available through the new countywide MARCS radio system, Maier explained. Information from the camera is transmitted via the system and uploaded to servers at the sheriff's office on U.S. Route 62.

Since December when it went active, the new $12 million countywide public safety radio system has connected the sheriff's office with 28 fire departments, 25 police departments, the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority, four health departments, nearly every school district, several Canton departments, the Stark County Engineer and the Stark County Dog Warden's office.

Each camera is supplied to the Stark MARCS radio system through Motorola at a cost of about $1,000 per year, according to the sheriff.

Deputies can use the multi-faceted cameras as recorders at the scene of an incident or to record notes for an investigation and as an actual camera to record video or photographic evidence, he said.

The cameras can be shut off but, Maier said, "Any time we're interacting with the public on a call for service, (deputies) activate the camera."

The cameras also feature a red emergency button in the event an officer is in trouble and need help. A push of the button sends an immediate signal to dispatchers.

At that point, Maier said, "We know which officer it is and we know where they are through GPS tracking."

Recorded information is uploaded into the servers at the sheriff's office. It can be retrieved for investigative purposes and shared directly with the prosecutor's office and the courts, where court workers can send the information on to the courtrooms.

Older body cameras left sheriff's office employees having to "download the information to a server, recorded onto a CD and then provided to the courts," said Chief Deputy John Oliver.

Deputies have used body cameras for about four or five years, but there weren't a lot to go around so they had to share.

"We had a dozen of them, but we had to pass them around and share," the sheriff said. "Now each officer has their own."

The new cameras also provide a special feature in that will "marry up to our MARCS radios," Maier said.

Oliver said the new technology saves money and man-hours, and "It's as simple as sending an email."

©2019 The Repository, Canton, Ohio. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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