Letter: It’s time the sheriff’s office gets body cams

Last month, a Portage County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Windham women who had allegedly entered a neighbor’s garage with a gun.  A Garrettsville police officer responding to the incident captured a lot of what unfolded on the scene because he was equipped with a body camera.  Unfortunately, some details remain unnecessarily murky, because our Sheriff’s office has not yet acquired body camera equipment.  

Why is that still the case?  Last year, Governor Mike DeWine announced a $10 million grant program to help law enforcement agencies offset the cost of providing body camera equipment to officers — equipment that the Sheriff’s office said they wanted, according to a Record-Courier article at the time.  Portage County commissioners urged the Sheriff’s office to apply for the funding.

We publicly commended the Sheriff’s office last year for making it a priority to purchase new body camera equipment, because when used appropriately with proper training, body cameras can help build trust and accountability between police officers and citizens.  But for some unknown reason, the Sheriff’s office has yet to follow through on his promise.

Trust and accountability are more important than ever, and we urge the Portage County Sheriff’s Office to make good on its promise to equip our local officers with body cameras.  Let’s get this done. 

Renee Romine

President, Portage County NAACP

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