The Youngstown Police Department has begun the process of acquiring its own body cameras.

Chief Carl Davis said even though they are in the early stages of getting these cameras, he told council members at Thursday's meeting that he wants them as soon as possible, hopefully within the next three to four months.

The chief said they met with one camera vendor Wednesday and plan to meet with other vendors to decide what will be the best features and what will be the best price for the department's budget.

One feature Chief Davis was looking into was one that was used in Columbus when an officer did not turn on his body camera right away.

The camera instead automatically started recording part of a deadly altercation, which was used in the investigation against the officer.

Chief Davis said they plan to buy about 150 body cameras for all sworn-in personnel.

Sergeant Jose Morales of YPD's Internal Affairs will oversee the implementation of the new body camera program.

"I think these cameras are going to enhance the transparency and openness to the public," said Sergeant Morales. "It's gonna build trust between our department and the community that we're serving."

Morales explained that he believes the cameras will also enhance accountability, not only for the department's officers, but for members of the community.

He said this would reduce the number of citizen complaints and use of force reports that the department receives.

"We have many good officers throughout our department and I think this program is gonna help us build upon that," said Sergeant Morales. "At the end of the day, our mission is to provide exceptional service to city residents and to the visitors and I think these body cameras are going to help us accomplish that."

Internal affairs will be working in conjunction with the department's planning and training department.

Internal affairs will also be handling the complaints that are filed and investigating them by looking at the body camera videos.

The greatest cost, however, is going to be the storage of that video, according to Chief Davis.

Sergeant Morales said the prices range for these cameras for just five years is between $50,000 to $100,000 annually to use the company's cloud video storage.

He said that would come to a total of $250,000 to $300,000.

The department is working on applying for grants to help pay for some of those expenses.

However, council members said they don't want to wait a long time for these body cameras to go into effect.

"If we can spend our money on...putting little YPD stickers on equipment, then we will come up with the money for the cameras," said First Ward Councilmember Anita Davis. "I don't want to see the rollout of these cameras being held up."

Following the meeting 21 News reached out to some of those who have been active in the call for police body cameras and policy change within Valley departments.

Rev. Kenneth Simon with New Bethel Baptist Church said, "I'm hopeful. I believe our new chief is sincere in this effort."

Jadalah Aslam with the Youngstown Warren Black Caucus said, "Well we're not there yet, but we are further ahead because this chief is definitely interested in moving forward on them.  I mean we never got a commitment from Chief Lees on doing that. He just said, 'Would I like them yeah, but we can't afford them and kind of pushed it aside."


A conversation that is now moving forward, but has many steps yet to go.