Hamilton County Sheriff's deputies are still working without body cameras, even though a plan to purchase them was approved earlier this year.
In January, Sheriff Jim Neil proposed entering a contract with TASER International for 230 body cameras. The deal would have included online data storage, camera maintenance, and brand new Taser guns. The cost of that deal was just over $1.4 million. Hamilton County received a $139,500 federal grant to help.
"The decision was that this would be a sole source agreement," says Interim County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.
"The decision was then made to take a step back and do this as a broader, wider, competitive procurement. Just to make sure we're getting the best value, best price for the equipment that we're purchasing," he says.
The Sheriff's Office has been working with the county prosecutor and the purchasing department to put together a request for proposals (RFP).
According to Sheriff's spokesman Mike Robison, the RFP will be released in the near future.
"Once we obtain bids through the competitive selection process, we’ll choose the best product for the Sheriff’s Office and implement them as quickly as possible," he says.
Aluotto says, typically, the RFP process takes three to four months.
"I've spoken with the Sheriff's Office about anything that we can do to continue to ensure the safety of our deputies in the field. So, I know the Sheriff is certainly very concerned about that, as is the Board of County Commissioners. Certainly if this is something that can assist in keeping our deputies safe on the street, we want to expedite this as quickly as we can," Aluotto says.
Robison says, "We have felt a sense of urgency from the beginning of the process. Ambushes like CPD (Cincinnati Police Department) Officer Sonny Kim and the recent Dallas police officers, the Glendale officer dealing with a knife-wielding murder fugitive on I-75, and countless other incidents demonstrate what a useful tool body cameras can be in getting to the truth."
Cincinnati Police will deploy body cameras to officers in the field starting August 1.