Warren leaders discuss if buying police body cameras is financially possible

Local News

After figuring out if they even want the cameras or not, the next big issue is if the city can afford them

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Warren City Council spent an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon talking about buying body cameras for its police department.

The main issue is paying for them. First, figuring out what it would cost, then deciding if the money is there.

Peter Klauss works for Motorola Watchguard. He showed how a camera would be worn as part of his sales presentation to Warren City Council.

“It’s roughly about $995 a body camera. When you look at storage, that can be a lot of different ways, cut up a lot of different ways,” he said.

But, what was not made clear was the annual cost of storing the video. Klauss quoted a number of $10-15,000 a year, while Warren Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert said he was quoted at $160,000 a year.

The question of how many cameras would be needed brought Police Capt. Robert Massucci into the conversation.

Council President Jim Graham: “So 20 cameras should cover that?”
Massucci: “I would have to say it would be more along the lines of 30 or 35.”
Graham: “That would be up to the department?”
Massucci: “Yes, correct. I would think 30 to 35.”

Law Director Enzo Cantalamessa added another expense, saying a trained person should be hired to oversee the video and make sure what is not public record is not released.

“Potentially, the city’s opened up to liability for disclosing something that it shouldn’t have,” he said.

No Warren councilperson opposed the body cameras.

Councilwoman Helen Rucker called buying body cameras her number one priority.

“Some communities in our city [are] deathly afraid and some mothers and grandmothers and fathers and people like me have to worry every time my grandson or any male leaves my house,” she said.

Mayor Doug Franklin said he supports body cameras but would not commit because he’s not sure what Warren can afford. He also stressed his support for the police department.

“This is a strong tool for them and it is going to protect them and our citizens. So transparency rules the day when it comes to my support of this and that’s what’s driving this. It’s not any lack of faith in our officers,” he said.

No decision was made Wednesday night on body cameras and no indication was given on when a decision might be made.

Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold also expressed concern about the large number of murders in her ward on the southwest side of Warren. She wants more security cameras placed throughout the city.

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