Perkins Township, New London, Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island police departments use body cameras.
“It covers an area where the dashcam doesn’t,” New London police Chief Mike Marko said. “It’s in lieu of the dash cam. This way, if they step away from the camera, there’s audio and video, too.”
The body cam costs about $200 for his department, and can be set for voice activation, which is what New London officers normally do.
“It’s just in case. In regard to citizen complaints, it’s either negative or positive,” Marko said. “We’ll review the video. Sometimes it exonerates and sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part, it does. Either way, it’s clear.”
Kelleys Island Police Department purchased three body cams this spring, for about $700 apiece. They’ve been using them since. “It’s better protection for the officers and liability for the village,” Kelleys Island police Chief Ron Ehrbar said. “Being in law enforcement for 40 years, I’ve realized anyone can say anything they want and charge you for it. It’s nice to have a back-up plan.”
Marblehead and Fremont police use voice recorders on almost every call. The digital recorders cost about $60, an even cheaper alternative to having cameras.
Marblehead Police Department once had cruiser cams, but they became too costly to maintain, Chief Greg Fultz said.
Instead, officers there now consistently use voice recorders, flipping them on in their pockets during interactions with the public.
Only about half the dashcams in Fremont police cruisers work, and there’s an ever-growing list of those that need maintenance or replacement, Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma said.
His officers have also started using audio recorders.
“I don’t see why not,” Wiersma said. “I don’t see a downside to having them. It’s been a benefit.”