YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown police officers took a new step this week to increase transparency.
Officers are starting to use body cameras and had their first training session on Wednesday.
A core group of 16 officers broken up by shift and unit will be using the cameras on a trial basis for 60 days, Police Chief Carl Davis said.
It’s something Davis committed to doing when he was first appointed in January.
“I fully see the benefits of having these body cameras, not only for… that will benefit the citizens, but the officers also,” Davis said.
The officers received training on the cameras from Thom Jackson of Axon, which Davis said supplies about 65 percent of departments across the country that use body cameras.
Jackson was a Nevada State Trooper for 24 years.
Detective Sgt. Jose Morales, Jr., of the Internal Affairs Division, who headed up the search for a body camera vendor, said the cameras the department are using are free for the duration of the trial.
Morales and Davis both said they hoped some of the officers who were training Wednesday would be able to take the cameras with them as soon as they started their next shift, which could be as soon as the midnight shift.
“For our people who work day-in and day-out, it’s going to be important for them to have input, to say this is what… how this works, this is how it doesn’t. What happens when we get into fights? Are they secure on our uniforms?” said Youngstown Officer Malik Mostella.
Davis said after the 60-day trial period, he will ask City Council to purchase cameras for the entire department if the trial period goes well.
Morales said the type of cameras the department is training on have a sensor in the holster where they keep their guns that will automatically turn the camera on when the gun is pulled if an officer forgets to turn the camera on.
“When we get out of the cars, the cameras are gonna be able to be turned on for us to record anything and everything that we do,” Mostella said.
The body cameras are something former Youngstown police officer, now City Council member Anita Davis has been pressing for long before she retired.
“Some complaints were legitimate but some were a little bit outrageous. These things, the footage and stuff, can help absolve an officer,” she said.