Clip-on cameras the latest crime fighting tool for East Palestine police

EAST PALESTINE – A video camera in a police cruiser is nothing new, but a camera on an officer? Some East Palestine officers are now wearing small clip-on cameras that can record up to two hours of audio and video footage.

Police Chief Kevin Dickey said the department purchased four Veho MUVI micro action cameras about two weeks ago using police levy funding. The cameras cost $183.99 combined, and the chief hopes to buy more next year. He wants to have all five full-time officers outfitted eventually.

The full-time officers simply clip the cameras onto their police shirts at the start of their shift and leave them at the department when they are done. A use log is kept at the department.

Dickey said the cameras are easier to use than the ones mounted on the dashboard of the police cruisers.

Village Manager Peter Monteleone, who served on the force as chief briefly, said the cameras were used at the police department in Virginia where he was working before coming back to his hometown of East Palestine.

The cameras can be activated by the officers during their shift, he explained.

Councilman Alan Cohen wondered if they are an invasion of privacy and Councilwoman Ellen Beagle responded the court systems like them, and they are good to have in the event an officer responds to a domestic violence situation.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said.

Dickey said the footage can be easily downloaded onto a computer using the software that is also provided with each camera, and the video can in turn be put onto a DVD disk and used as evidence in court later.

“The cameras also provide a certain level of protection for both officers and the citizens during officer/citizen encounters,” he said.

Police in Cincinnati began field testing clip-on cameras in 2010. An officer from that department was quoted by a local TV station that year as saying the cameras help him to remember what he said or did during an incident in which he was under stress.

Officers in other states, such as Maine and New York, also began wearing the cameras over the last few years.

The Portland Press Herald reported last month the goal of the video is to record from the officers’ point of view for use as evidence against suspects and to protect them from unfounded accusations, or the public from police misconduct.

They also come in handy in the event a suspect, victim or witness changes their statements during an investigation, which is not uncommon, according to the article.

Cameras were introduced in New York in February of 2012, and according to a recent New York Times article, they decreased the number of complaints against officer and officer-involved shootings by more than 50 percent each.

Dickey said the officers are not required to tell individuals when the cameras are being used.

Another change at the department is new answering machines for each full-time officer.

Beagle said the machines allow for people calling the department to “get right to an officer” and that officer can return the message as soon as possible.

“I think that builds a little bit of a relationship with our police department,” she said.