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Body Cam Rollout Begins, FOP Threatens Legal Action

Ann Thompson
Banks of charging stations hold the body cameras at the Central Business District police station.

Cincinnati Police Officer Orlando Smith, a 22-year veteran of the department, has long advocated for body cameras. After a Wednesday news conference announcing their rollout, Smith showed off his camera which is mounted on his chest.

Credit Ann Thompson
Ann Thompson
Officer Orlando Smith is a long proponent of body cameras and is glad he has one now.

While the camera will remain on during his 10-hour shift, because of battery limitations, Smith will have to manually press record when there is an incident. "The more you do it the more it's going to become second nature, just like all the tools on our belt," he says.

Police departments nationwide are equipping their officers with body cameras following public outrage over the shooting of civilians.

The rollout comes just three days after a knife attack on Government Square where an officer shot and killed the suspect. Metro surveillance video helped police investigate. The officer involved in the shooting, Anthony Brucato, is assigned to District One. Eventually officers in his district will get the cameras. Seven-hundred of them will be distributed by the end of the year.

"This just further emphasizes  our commitment of transparency in capturing that best evidence," says Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac.

Captain Doug Weisman says the video will be uploaded to www.evidence.com.

From there additional employees will be charged with storing the video, maintaining it, redacting it, cataloging it and preparing it for court. Weisman says, "There is a group of civilian employees dedicated to being the redaction team. The Prosecutor's Office has hired a couple of paralegals to help them process these videos for court... They actually have back-door access to the video so lawyers can review them for court."

FOP threatens legal action

While Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Dan Hils recognizes the need for the department to have body cams, he doesn't like that the cameras weren't negotiated in the police contract. He says, "It's an additional duty. Not very many people would want to go through their day being monitored and every part of their job. But we understand the political reasons why people are requesting it, demanding it."

Hils says additional duties require additional pay. He is asking union attorneys to look into legal action.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.