Mayor designates $4.5 million for latest police body-worn cameras

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Mayor Andrew Ginther says the city of Columbus has budgeted $4.5 million to update police body-worn cameras that have been in use since 2016.

The statement came as city leaders discussed introducing a law in honor of Andre’ Hill, an unarmed man killed by a Columbus police officer last month.

“This year, we will invest in the next generation of body cameras,” Ginther said. He said the city will also update the cameras in police cruisers.

“Cameras in cruisers will automatically activate,” Ginther said. “This ‘always on’ function will ensure that anything leading up to the incident is covered with high resolution audio and video.”

The mayor said that police reform is a priority for City Council. Council President Shannon Hardin echoed the urgency, saying that council will introduce Andre’s Law on Jan. 25 and could implement it as soon as Feb. 1.

Also speaking at Thursday’s meeting were Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan and Civilian Review Board Work Group member Aslyne Rodriguez.

In addition to the issue of body-worn cameras, Quinlan said he plans to implement an early-intervention systems for officers who may be suffering from on-the-job trauma.

“The intervention system will more accurately balance an officer’s on-the-job performance,” he said. “We need to ensure their well-being so officers can ensure the public’s.”

The Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement afterward, saying that to “demonize” the police is not the solution.

“We had 175 citizens of Columbus murdered last year and the FOP mourns the loss of every life taken,” FOP executive director Jeff Simpson said. “Until the voters require their politicians to actually do something productive about the crime in this City instead of politicize it, this chaos will continue. I encourage the Mayor and City Council to work with Law Enforcement in a meaningful, constructive manner rather than demonize us on a daily basis.”

In a separate statement, the FOP said better communication is needed in negotiating changes regarding the use of body-worn cameras.

“Communication and willingness to work together is a two-way street,” Simpson said. “It is unfortunate that the Mayor and City Council continue to disregard and attack the Collective Bargaining Process. All of the unions in central Ohio, who all operate within the same legal perimeters as the FOP, should be taking notice and they should very concerned.”  

Simpson said that officers will need “clear direction” as far as a requirement to rendering aid. 

“There has been a breakdown in leadership within the Division of Police and the Mayor as to what they require of our members. Give our members clear instruction with the training, equipment needed and we will take care of business in the manner we are instructed to do so.”

Andre’s Law, proposed by Andrè Hill’s daughter Karissa, seeks to establish several reforms within the police department, including reforms regarding the use of body cameras, timely medical assistance at crime scenes, and holding officers with records of excessive force accountable for their actions on-duty.

Andrè Hill was shot and killed on Dec. 22 at a home on Oberlin Drive in Columbus as police responded to a non-emergency call. The Franklin County Coroner has ruled the death a homicide.

Officer Adam Coy was fired by CPD following a termination hearing this week. Hill’s family has called for criminal charges to be filed against Coy.

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