Akron Police Department launches body camera program

AKRON, Ohio-- The Akron Police Department released details of its new officer body camera program during an event on Tuesday.

Police Chief Kenneth Ball spoke at the news conference at the Stubbs Justice Center.

He said the department started working to get the cameras following a demonstration at the Norton Police Department in 2013.

"During this process, there were some significant national events that brought further attention and scrutiny of law enforcement throughout the country," Ball said. "So the perspective changed dramatically in that now this was not something that was going to be a burden on our communities to find out how we were going to pay for it. But in the minds of many, a necessity that departments ought to have for transparency."

Ball said the biggest benefit is proving to residents that transparency is a top priority of this department.

"We have seen reductions in use of force and complaints," Ball said. "There will continue to be use of force in law enforcement, that will never go away."

The Akron Police Department currently has 115 cameras, but that number will increase to 245. Ball said the program will cost about $1 million over the next five years. That includes the cost of the cameras and video storage.

As part of the department's contract with the camera vendor, the equipment will be replaced after two and a half years. Ball said they tested 30 cameras at a time for 90 days from five different vendors before choosing. They also partnered with Kent State University on a study.