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Akron Becomes First Ohio City To Equip All Police With Body Cameras

Akron Police
Akron Police posted advertisements on Metro RTA buses to announce their use of body cameras.

Akron is in the final phase of its million-dollar plan to fully equip its police department with body cams. At a news conference Tuesday, Acting Police Chief Kenneth Ball and Mayor Dan Horrigan said the last of the specialty camcorders are on their way from the manufacturer.

The announcement came as the November election is nearing with the city seeking a 0.25 percent increase in the income tax to pay for, among other things, improved police services. Horrigan was asked about the timing.

“It highlights the importance of Issue 4," Horrigan says. "I don’t necessarily want to have that conversation about if it doesn’t pass. But we’ve made a commitment to use these., so we’re going to make it work either way.”

The mayor said the progress with body cams shows the city is making good on promises to use tax dollars to keep the police force well equipped. But he said the project is more important because of the transparency it brings to local law enforcement.

“We’ve made the commitment for that," Horrigan says. "This is how we need to do it. And I applaud all of our partners in being able to help—in getting community input. And everybody benefits on this."

"Nobody likes to buy insurance, but this is insurance; and this is insurance for the community and all of us to say this is going to work and we’re going to use it this way.”

Akron Police Lt. Mark Farrar, who is in charge of equipping all of the officers with body cams, demonstrated one that he was wearing and talked about what’s next.

“The first phase was a hundred cameras," Farrar says. "And then the second phase was just ordered last week, which is an additional 145.”

In 2013, Akron began studying options for equipping all officers with cameras as well as recording, storing and retrieving the video. The million dollar cost will be spread out over five years. And a federal grant of about $330,000 helped.