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Taylor Mill Police to Pursue Body Cameras for Officers

The Taylor Mill Police Department will have funds approved to purchase body-worn cameras for its officers to wear while on patrol. 
 
The funding amounts to a little over $14,400 that will not only purchase eight body cameras but will also pay for the L3 software and data tower that will transfer the video data from the camera to a computer.
  
"The last 18 months, everybody has seen what has gone on in Ferguson, Baltimore and Cleveland with the civil unrest due to police shootings. It would be nice to see what happened if some of these officers would have had a body-worn camera. Hopefully it would have captured maybe in real time what happened," said Taylor Mill Police Chief Steve Knauf.
 
"I think in this day and age, that it is another layer of transparency that we can offer the populace that we serve by saying that we are willing to have our actions recorded.  We strive to be ethical and do the right thing and we want to have those actions recorded," Knauf said. 
 
He also said that the when both police and citizens know they are being recorded, their actions tend to be less aggressive.
 
"One of the most important things that I like about the body-worn cameras is they offer a real time permanent video recording of interactions between police and citizens, and I think in today's day and age that this is crucial," Knauf said. "I was at the Kenton County Police Chiefs meeting last week, and that was the buzzword. Everybody in the room is talking about body-worn cameras, how they're going to fund them, how they're going to buy them from their commission and everybody is just all over it.  
 
"There are some other benefits to body-worn cameras. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence; there's not as much scientific evidence, but we do have about a half dozen empirical studies going on right now. One of the benefits of these cameras is what they call civilized in effect, whereas if people know they're being video-taped, the police and the citizens behave better. It's like having a baby-sitter. So I like that. These studies have shown reductions in force used by officers. They found that officers are less aggressive when they deal with people."
 
Knauf also said that cameras would go a long way to help clarify the few complaints that Taylor Mill citizens have lodged at the police department. He said that many times, complaints are unverifiable about what actually happened because there is often no witness there to corroborate either side of the story, so often they have to categorize the complaint as unsubstantiated.
 
The company that Taylor Mill has identified as the appropriate provider is L3, which is the same company that Taylor Mill currently uses for its cruiser dash-cameras.  
 
"So what's nice about this is that we will be able to blend our video dash cam system with the body-worn camera system, manage the same data, the same computer and just blend the two together," Knauf said. 
 
Mayor Dan Bell wondered if the city's police department may be able to partner with other local Kenton County agencies to increase the amount of cameras in hopes to decrease the cost of the purchase. 
 
Knauf said that indeed he and other departments have explored grant opportunities that typically require a police department to staff 25 or more employees, but these grants do allow agencies to partner in order to satisfy that requirement. 
 
"I was speaking with the Edgewood Police Chief (Anthony Kramer) and he is setting up a committee to speak to see if certain departments want to come together and give us the ability to maybe get some of this funded with a grant," Knauf said. 
 
City Commissioner Dan Murray asked if the cameras would automatically turn on when worn by the police officers like the cruiser dash cameras do, but Knauf said currently that is not the case. 
 
"You have to turn them on manually right now, but this company tells us that they are working on enhancing this system where once you activate it, it will automatically turn on," Knauf said. 
 
It was decided by the city commission to approve the funds for the body-worn cameras, but that Taylor Mill will wait to purchase the cameras in order to see if a broader partnership can be agreed upon first.   
 
Funds will also be approved for new bullet-proof vests, a new police cruiser, new tasers and a trailer. 
 
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
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