COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced Friday that the ODNR has begun equipping all natural resource officers and wildlife with body cameras.
“Body cameras are becoming an increasingly important piece of technology in all areas of law enforcement,” Governor DeWine said. “These new cameras have the ability to protect natural resource and wildlife officers while providing transparency to the public.”
ODNR officers are certified peace officers who are required to enforce all laws and state statutes within their jurisdiction. Governor DeWine ordered the ODNR to begin the process of equipping its officers with body cameras last year. As a result of this directive, the ODNR sought approval from the Ohio Controlling Board to use $3.5 million in federal funding from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. ) to buy the new cameras.
“Our officers have been well trained in the use of this new technology which will help them better protect the people of Ohio,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We are excited to deploy these new cameras to increase the confidence 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 press release. The cameras also enable detailed documentation of crime and accident scenes, improve the accuracy of incident reports and court testimony, and help improve community-police relations.
The deployment of ODNR body cameras should be completed by the end of the year.
Under the direction of Governor DeWine, the Ohio State Highway Patrol also equipped 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 costs associated with camera equipment and video storage.
ODNR officer with body camera