Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
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Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
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Media Advisory
News Date: March 22, 2022

City Announces Next Generation of Police Body Camera Technology

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther today announced a nearly $19 million investment to equip Columbus Police officers with cutting-edge technology for body-worn cameras (BWC) and in-car cameras. 

Technological advancements will allow higher-quality audio and video, automatic activation to safeguard against user error, synchronization between body-worn and in-car cameras, and video recall abilities as far back as 24 hours prior to an incident.  

“This next generation of body-worn cameras will improve our understanding of an encounter, and of each other, when events unfold at lightning speed – sometimes in the midst of great chaos and confusion – and when a thorough and objective assessment is required to determine the facts,” said Mayor Ginther.

As a result of the historic collective bargaining agreement the City secured last year with the Fraternal Order of Police, the following changes have been adopted within the body-worn camera policy:

  • Automated Activation: Allows camera to be turned on without manual interaction
  • Pre-Event Recording: Allows for audio/video lookback of up to two minutes prior to camera activation
  • Video Recall: Allows the Director of Public Safety to order the review of audio and video recordings up to 24 hours prior to a critical incident 

The next generation of video technology advancements will incorporate, in-whole or in-part, these contractual advancements. This agreement with Axon Camera Systems includes features that will significantly improve the Columbus Division of Police’s ability to capture, identify, store, and share audio and video content. The Axon 3 camera is designed to:

  • Reduce motion and blur
  • Utilize four microphones which balance themselves to capture clearer audio
  • Synchronize BWC and in-car camera video feeds (allows for automated activation, overlapping views and automatic video tagging)
  • Captures audio and video content two minutes prior to activation
  • BWCs can recall video up to 18 hours following an incident; in-car cameras can recall video up to 24 hours following an incident
  • In-car cameras include license plate readers to improve officers’ situational awareness
  • Body-worn cameras will automatically activate when:
  • o   An officer’s weapon is removed from his or her utility belt
  • o   A cruiser’s lights/sirens are activated
  • o   A rifle/shotgun rack are released
  • o   A cruiser accelerates to a high rate of speed
  • o   A cruiser is involved in a collision

As part of the contract, Axon will provide the following:

  • 2,105 body-worn cameras
  • Three-year refresh on BWC hardware
  • 450 in-car cameras equipped with license plate readers
  • 16 interview room systems
  • 75 Flex 2 Units (allows cameras to be mounted on specialty tactical gear)
  • Video and other evidence management for city and county prosecutors’ offices
  • De-installation of old equipment and installation of new equipment
  • Unlimited storage from both internal and third-party video sources 

“The arrival of this next-generation technology in Columbus is a win for accountability and transparency, it’s a win for building trust with our community, and it’s a win for officer safety,” said Director of Public Safety Robert Clark. “All of that makes this a win for community safety in our city.”

Training and deployment of the new equipment will begin in June and be completed by March 31, 2023. The total cost is $18,937,672.20 over five years. 

The proposed agreement will be discussed at a Columbus City Council public hearing today from 4-6 p.m. today, and will then go to City Council for approval.