COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced Friday that ODNR has begun outfitting all natural resources and wildlife officers with body cameras.
“Body cameras are becoming an increasingly important piece of technology in all areas of law enforcement,” said Governor DeWine. “These new cameras have the ability to protect natural resources and wildlife officers while also offering transparency to the public.”
ODNR officers are certified peace officers who are required to enforce all laws and statutes of the state within their jurisdictions. Governor DeWine directed ODNR to begin the process toward outfitting their officers with body cameras last year. Following that directive, ODNR pursued approval from the Ohio Controlling Board to use $3.5 million in federal funding from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to purchase the new cameras.
“Our officers have been well-trained in the use of this new technology that will help them better protect the people of Ohio,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We are excited to roll out these new cameras to increase the trust of our visitors while keeping our officers safe on the job.”
Body-worn cameras have become a key tool for law enforcement in recent years to accurately document arrests, critical incidents, and other interactions with the public, according to a news release. The cameras also allow for detailed documentation of crime and crash scenes, enhance the accuracy of incident reports and court testimony, and help to improve community-police relations.
The roll-out of ODNR body-worn cameras is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
At Governor DeWine’s direction, the Ohio State Highway Patrol has also outfitted state troopers with body cameras and a grant program was developed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety to assist local law enforcement agencies with the costs associated with camera equipment and video storage.