Middletown supervisors slated for body cameras, more on the way

Acting chief notes issues with redaction and storage of video has slowed rollout.

Body worn cameras for Middletown Division of Police supervisors are ready for use when training is completed, and a $20,000 grant approved this month by council will pay for about another 26 cameras to equip patrol officers.

Last year in September, city officials said they hoped patrol officers would be wearing body cameras by the end of October. The reality of cost for storage and redaction training slowed down the process, officials said.

This week the 12 cameras slated for supervisors remain on charging docks in the police training room.

Acting Police Chief Eric Cranks said supervisors will begin training soon, and the the idea is, after they are trained, “they will be able to train their shifts.”

With the additional purchase from the $20,150 from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice grant, every patrol officer should be equipped, Crank said. The grant is specifically meant for departments starting a new program, and the program will need to be sustained by budgeting or other grants in the future.

The cameras can be shared, but there has to be enough to permit time for downloading between shifts, which could take a couple hours depending on the number of calls and traffic stops worked in an 8-hour shift. There have to be extras available.

Also, officers working off-duty assignments per current policy would be required to wear a camera, Crank said.

The acting chief said there’s more to body cameras than many realize.

“It is not just throw on the body camera, it is the redaction, the storage, and following policy about when officers will be using them and when they are not,” Crank said. “There are just a lot of factors to it.”

By the end of the month, the supervisors should be trained and the department will start rolling them out getting comfortable with, according to the acting chief.

Crank said the records department staff will be doing redactions from the cameras. No additional personnel has been hired. He said an area police department has two full-time redaction specialists and they are still a month behind.

“That is the problem we are having period, people are over-tasked,” Crank said. “It is frustrating.”

City Manager Paul Lolli said he anticipates equipping patrol offices will move more quickly because the supervisors will already be trained.

He said council was fully supportive of the cameras as well as city staff, but the price tag was high and decisions were made to wait for grant funding.

“The big problem is the storage and having to have people available for video redaction,” Lolli said. “Getting the training and the video redaction set up was a little bit more difficult than we had anticipated.”

Lolli said he personally has mixed feelings concerning the body cameras

“I think it is a very good thing, it’s the wave of the future. The problem you start seeing every crime that is committed, even minor crime, the legal process comes forward and every little thing that happens, somebody wants the video of it. That is what causes a lot of manhours to meet what we need to do on those requests,” he said.


A law took effect in 2019 that gave guidance for using body cameras. It identified 17 instances in which video recorded by body cameras are exempt from disclosure.

Among them are:

• Inside a residence unless the incident involves “an adversarial encounter with, or a use of force by, a peace officer”

• Showing children

• A death or body, unless it was caused by a peace officer

• A nude body, unless the person consents

• “Grievous” bodily harm to a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic or other first responder

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