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UPDATE | Youngstown Police Department begins trial period with Axon body cameras

The officers involved in the trial period will be using the cameras throughout the city and on all shifts. 

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Police Department had a training session for officers Wednesday to begin its trial period with Axon body cameras.

Sixteen officers volunteered for the 30- to 60-day trial period. The officers who attended the training session began using the Axon Body 3 body cameras Wednesday.

YPD Chief Carl Davis said when he became police chief in January, getting body cameras for the department was one of his first initiatives. YPD never had body cameras before. 

Chief Davis said the body cameras will provide an objective point of view of citizen encounters and daily police activities. 

Some of the benefits of the body cameras include documenting evidence, enhancing officer training, preventing and resolving complaints from the community and strengthening transparency, performance and accountability of YPD, Davis said.  

“I believe that use of body-worn cameras will help us in our mission to provide exceptional service to the residents and visitors of the city of Youngstown,” Davis said. 

Sgt. Jose Morales Jr. will oversee the body camera program for the department. During the trial period, officers will be able to assess and share feedback about the body cameras. 

The officers involved in the trial period will be using the cameras throughout the city and on all shifts. 

“This body-worn camera program, once fully adopted, will create better transparency between the department and the community,” Morales said.

Officer Malik Mostella said officers will be using the cameras when they get out of a patrol car. Officers will be given new tasers that will be coordinated with the cameras and will turn the cameras on when a taser is deployed. 

Body cameras will be placed on officers between their collarbone and above their belly button. The camera can also be quickly taken off to better film an area an officer is observing. 

YPD plans to eventually get body cameras for all officers, Mostella said. 

In a safety committee meeting in March, Morales said the cost of the cameras and software would be about $524,000. 

No final decisions have been made on a body camera vendor for YPD, Morales said. 

“We’re still weighing our options,” Morales said. Other vendors YPD has looked into are BodyWorn, G-Tech Solutions and Motorola.

Studies have shown that body cameras can reduce the number of citizen complaints as much as 75 percent and reduce the number of use of force incidents. 

Last year, YPD received about 74,000 calls for service. Davis said of those calls, less than one-tenth of 1 percent resulted in a use of force encounter. 

“Although that number is low, anything that we can do to try and bring that number even closer to zero is something worth looking at,” Davis said. 

Councilwoman Anita Davis, 6th Ward, has been working to get body cameras in the department since she was an officer. 

She said she was grateful for the chief’s leadership to get the body cameras implemented. She said it’s another step to get the department to move into 21st-century technology. 

“I’m happy … it’s one more tool, and it’s moving forward,” Councilwoman Davis said.

Ellen Wagner

About the Author: Ellen Wagner

Ellen Wagner reports on municipal services and budget cuts in Youngstown. She is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.
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