Ohio prison system to implement body-worn cameras


For the Miami Valley Today

COLUMBUS — Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith announced on Thursday that the process to outfit agency prison and parole staff with body-worn cameras is now underway.

The first phase of implementation started last month and included staff training and the deployment of approximately 550 body-worn cameras for security supervisors in all of Ohio’s prisons.

“These cameras will supplement our existing stationary camera systems and will help to capture areas we otherwise may not be able to see,” said Chambers-Smith. “This is ultimately about safety, transparency, and accountability for everyone who works or lives in our prisons.”

The implementation plan includes the deployment of an additional 4,550 cameras, which will be assigned to specifically-identified prison posts and individual parole officers in the Adult Parole Authority. The goal is to complete the full roll out of the body-worn cameras throughout the first half of 2022.

Chambers-Smith announced a pilot project to test the use of body cameras in Ohio’s prisons in June 2021. The pilot concluded in October and involved two prisons and two Adult Parole Authority regions. During this time, DRC also connected with other state correctional and law enforcement agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, to identify best practices for body camera use.

The body-worn camera systems, including equipment and storage, will be funded through combination of federal CARES Act money approved by the Controlling Board, grant funding from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, and DRC’s operating budget. The systems are expected to cost approximately $6.9 million the first year and approximately $3.2-$3.3 million the following four years.

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