Franklin County Sheriff's office among eight area agencies to get body-cam funds

An example of a police body camera.
An example of a police body camera.

The Franklin County Sheriff's office and six other area law enforcement agencies will receive a combined total of more than $500,000 from the state to help start or enhance body-camera programs, Gov. Mike DeWine's office has announced.

The money, part of a statewide $4.7 million grant distributed to 109 agencies, is part of the state's effort to ensure that all law enforcement have the cameras.

The sheriff's office received $232,200 — the most money in Franklin County — to help get their body-camera program moving. The sheriff's office still does not have body cameras for deputies or jail personnel, despite the controversy ignited more than a year ago when a white sheriff's SWAT deputy fatally shot a Black man as he was entering his residence.

Approved: Columbus City Council to set aside $4 million to update police body, other cameras

In December 2020, then-deputy Jason Meade, who had been assigned to work with a U.S. Marshal's fugitive task force, shot and killed Casey Goodson Jr. on Columbus' Northeast Side. Meade's attorneys say Goodson had flashed a gun at a passing motorist so Meade, who was leaving the area after an unrelated and unsuccessful search for a felon, followed Goodson a short distance away to Goodson's residence.

Meade ordered Goodson to drop his gun, his attorneys say, then shot Goodson. A coroner's report says Goodson was struck six times from behind. His family says Goodson's keys were in the door, he was carrying Subway sandwiches, and had a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon.

A witness heard Meade's command, but did not see Goodson or the shooting. Goodson's weapon was recovered from the scene.

Meade was not wearing a body camera and there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting. Meade has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting, and has since taken a disability retirement from the sheriff's office.

Weeks after the shooting, the Franklin County Commissioners set aside $2.5 million for the sheriff's office to obtain body cameras. More than a year has passed since Goodson's death and the sheriff's office has not yet introduced cameras to its personnel.

Since that time, the sheriff's office said it has continued to work on the body camera process, with bids being solicited from companies for the cost of outfitting the sheriff's office.

More: Deputy who killed Casey Goodson has used faith to justify use of force before

Of the other agencies in Franklin County receiving funding, four of them are also starting body camera programs. Upper Arlington police received $62,335, Obetz police received $75,959, Hilliard police received $58,830 and Grove City police received $58,976.

Whitehall and Blendon Township police also received funding, $46,675 and $19,224 respectively, to enhance their current body camera programs.

Newark police, in Licking County, also received nearly $100,000 in funding to start a body camera program.

The grants are being administered by the state's Office of Criminal Justice Services, which has $16 million to fund body camera programs across Ohio. Every agency that applied for funding to start a new camera program was granted funding, with some other agencies receiving funding.

There are other agencies that have since applied for funding, which is expected to be granted and distributed at a later date.

A deeper look: Many law enforcement agencies using body cameras, but some say they can't afford them

In Franklin County, 14 of the 26 law enforcement agencies had body camera programs in place in 2021. An additional eight agencies were in the process of starting a body camera program.

Columbus Division of Police is in the process of upgrading its body camera program to include cameras that have a longer "look back" feature that also includes audio. In December, Columbus City Council set aside $4 million for that process.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Franklin County Sheriff's office among locals to get body cam funds