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Deputies To Patrol With Body Cameras Before July

Bill Rinehart
Sheriff Neil, Board President Portune, and Commissioner Driehaus say the county will fund body cameras for deputies.

Body cameras are coming to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office two years after first proposed. Commissioners are expected to approve spending $125,000 to match a Department of Justice grant. 

Deputies will field test the cameras in March and April, and should be issued the equipment by the middle of June. Sheriff Jim Neil says his office is working on the storage and video release policies.

"When you use some of this technology it's going to create some other needs. The costs associated with wearing the body cameras is the personnel you're going to need to redact the video," Neil says. That's to address privacy concerns.

Board President Todd Portune says it's not clear how much the camera operations and maintenance will cost, or if deputies or civilian personnel will be assigned to screen the video.

"It's very difficult to put a price on public safety because it is such a high priority and this issue in and of itself is a very high priority for us. The costs, as we see them, are manageable," Portune says. He and fellow Democrat Denise Driehaus are committed to funding the program for the next four years. Portune says estimates are $125,000 annually.

"Anytime you purchase something the costs up front are going to be more. And then in the years succeeding, it's just replacement costs, repair costs of the technology, but it won't be in the neighborhood of the initial costs," Neil says.

Neil says his office has cameras from two vendors that will be field tested in March and April. He would not identify the vendors, but says they were narrowed down from seven.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.