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The Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (O.P.B.A)

24/7 VIDEO COVERAGE - The Use of Body Cameras –

The inexorable march toward 24/7 video coverage of the average patrol officer's work shift continues with the latest innovation --the body worn camera.

The utilization of body cameras in the police profession is certainly a prevalent topic of conversation in the industry.

While it will be some time before any conclusions can be reached as to whether these cameras result in an overall positive or negative experience for police officers and/or the public, it is important that the commencement of the utilization of the cameras is preceded by proper training and a comprehensive policy governing their use,

No one will benefit from a premature rush to employ this new technology without a carefully crafted and flexible policy which provides clear guidelines concerning many aspects of its utilization.   Also, it is important to note that utilization of cameras does not obviate the need for officers to continue to provide complete and accurate written documentation of every critical incident.

Any decent policy concerning the use of these cameras should contain, at minimum, provisions detailing:

  1. The amount, the substance and the frequency of training required prior to and during their use;
  2. The location(s) on the body that are acceptable for the camera to be worn;
  3. The types of encounters and/or contacts with citizens to be recorded;
  4. The permissible timing for the conclusion of the recording or the deactivation or non-use of the device;
  5. A prohibition against editing or altering the content of a recording without permission from a supervisor;
  6. The universe of persons permitted and, the times and locations when it is permissible to review the recorded information;
  7. The storage of the recorded information and the length of time that the recordings are required to be maintained; and,
  8. The handling of public records requests related to the recorded information and the distribution of the information subject to such request

 

Obviously, the foregoing list is not meant to be exhaustive. But, it does highlight broad categories of information that should be included in a policy governing the utilization of body cameras.

While there is no question that the cameras may be very useful tools for documenting evidence, corroborating the content of encounters with third parties and providing fodder for future training exercises, it is important to recognize that these devices are just another tool which, when properly employed, will, hopefully, enhance the officer's effectiveness and assist in protecting the user from false claims or improper allegations of misconduct.

However, like any new technology or tool, it will not be surprising if their utilization is accompanied by some bumps in the road before the true value of the cameras are realized and/or optimized.

 

Public Perceptions

People that police were hired to serve and protect have generally shifted their views of police negatively as of late.  Most of the downward shift is caused by their lack of knowledge and understanding.  Of course that is exploited by the press as they over dramatize incidents to make proper police work look improper.  None of this is new.  It just happened to gain more traction than usual.

Why did it gain more traction than in the past?  One of the main reasons is the videos of some of the conflicts.  The videos tend to start after the conflict begins, thus missing what is often very relevant information.  It leaves the viewers in the dark over why the officers are even taking any action.  This won’t change until every officer is wearing a video camera as part of their uniforms.

Another reason is not so new.  The general public just doesn’t understand how they should act when confronted by police.  It seems to me to be a growing problem that isn’t being addressed properly until reviewed by those who are properly informed.

I know I taught my children to listen and comply with police orders.  I don’t think that is happening in most households.  Certainly many children in the lower income areas are not being taught to comply.  Those are the areas where many of those involved are raised.  Given the number of people who have actively protested and spoken out against officers who were properly performing their jobs, it seems that many either were never told of the need to comply with police orders or they just never learned.

This could be an easy fix.  Given how much teachers are specifically told exactly what to teach, they should just add teaching how to comply with police orders to the list.  It would have a dramatic impact in the long run.  It would also offer a great opportunity for officers to demonstrate when the officers give and order, how to comply and what could happen if they don’t comply. Until then, be careful to remember you will probably be caught on camera when you work.

On a related note, there has been a debate on the educational requirements for police for quite a while.  The idea is understandable since police need to know so much and act so fast.  Basically, police need to have the knowledge of lawyers with handcuffs and guns. Of course the police academy isn’t quite as long as the seven years of college required for attorneys, and it has to cover guns and defensive techniques,… etc.

College degrees have never been a normal requirement to be a police officer.  In 2007, the last year a survey was conducted, only 1% of police departments required a four year degree, 9% wanted a two year degree and 6% demanded some college.

Despite how few departments require college, around 36% of officers aged twenty-five and older have at least a bachelor’s degree.  That is over a tenfold increase in the last forty-five years.

Critics claim that college requirements make it much more difficult to recruit minority officers, a constant image problem in larger cities.   Of course many of those same critics feel that the officers should be better educated.  It is quite ironic that the critics can’t even agree with themselves.

Statistically, those officers with degrees were much less likely to be disciplined.  Despite the trend, New Orleans recently relaxed their requirements.  They are trying to increase the force by almost five hundred officers and felt the requirement was eliminating too many potential candidates.    However, I would be surprised if the increase doesn’t continue.

I would also like to congratulate the officers in Brimfield Township.  They have been fighting with their former Chief for years.  He would constantly target officers who stood up to him.  Many were fired and had to fight to get their jobs back.  Many others just left to escape his bizarre tactics and crazy antics.  The Trustees thought he was doing a good job primarily because of all of the friends he made for his department on Facebook.

He retired under the cloud of health issues.  It probably had a lot more to do with the lawsuit filed against him.  From the sound of things, one or more may be on the way.

 

 

Meet Your New Executive Director

On June 5, 2014 the OPBA Executive Board unanimously elected me to be Executive Director beginning August 4, 2014.  I want to thank the Executive Board and former Executive Director Jeff Pedicino for their confidence and endorsement.

I am currently employed as a Police Sergeant in the City of Twinsburg in Summit County.  The City of Twinsburg is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Cleveland and approximately 20 miles north of Akron.

During my almost 20 year career, I have had a wide variety of training and experience.  I have been a member of the United States Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force, Juvenile Diversion Officer, Field Training Officers and Public Information Officer to name a few.  My current assignment is to a twelve hour dayshift on road patrol.

The police department I work at has experienced the same problems many members of the OPBA have.  We have experienced major population growth in the 1990’s to a car manufacturer closing in the 2000’s.  We also experienced municipal tax increases, threats of personnel layoffs and unfortunately a loss of a police officer in the line of duty.

I have been an OPBA Director in my department since 1999 and a member of the Executive Board since 2010.

Finally, I am proud to serve you, the members of the OPBA.  I look forward to continuing a long tradition of quality representation to our members.


The OPBA made endorsements during the last election cycle.  We were successful in two  out of three endorsements to statewide candidates.  Congratulations to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy and Attorney General Mike DeWine on their re-elections.


It is the time of year to consider worthy officers to nominate for the 22nd annual Top Cop Awards.  This event is sponsored by our national representative NAPO in Washington D.C.  The

event is scheduled during National Police Week and takes place May 12, 2015.  Please visit opba.com for a nomination form.


I want to thank the staff of the OPBA for the help and guidance that they have given to me during my transition to Executive Director,  Unfortunately people don’t see how hard they work for the OPBA on a daily basis.
Since this will be our last magazine issue of 2014, I want to wish all of you and your families Happy Holidays and a great New Year.

 

Stay Safe!

 

Win a Harley