Kent State University Police Services will equip its officers with body cameras after receiving a $23,780 grant from the state of Ohio.
“I think the cameras are a great investment,” Tricia Knoles, a community resource officer for the police department, said. “We’re excited we got the grant for them. It will allow everyone to get an officer’s perspective or their view of a situation and will also assist with accountability.”
The grant was funded by the state operating budget that was signed into law in 2021. It will exclusively be for the purchase and maintenance of the cameras.
The department trialed Getac body cameras, a brand popular among other departments in the region, for two months last year but returned them after the trial run due to the costs of storage. Now, with help from the grant, the university’s police department have placed an order for 20 of them.
Due to delivery delays and required training, it could take a month or two before the cameras are in use on campus. While no specific policy has been laid out by the department yet, officers will be expected to wear the cameras throughout their shifts, according to Knoles.
Requests for videos taken on the devices will function as any other public records request unless an investigation is ongoing.
“Having body cameras assures not only our safety, but the safety of our community,” Dean Tondiglia, director of public safety and chief of police, said in a press release from the office of State Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County). “We will have the option of showing video from the officer's perspective, and also providing accountability."
Another department in Portage Country, the Streetsboro Police Department, received funding through the grant as well.
“This program is going to significantly help with transparency that will be advantageous for both our police departments and our residents throughout Portage County,” Pavliga, who voted in favor of the budget in the Ohio House, said in the release.