Columbus Police Department taking steps to keep officers and community safer

COLUMBUS — The Columbus Police Department is taking steps to keep officers and the community safer.

Officers with the department will now be equipped with new and improved gear, including updated body cameras and license plate reading technology.

Each police vehicle will have new high-definition cameras. These state-of-the-art cameras will be capable of automatically scanning any license plate while patrolling. Previously officers had to manually enter a license plate and they would have to wait for the plate information to return.

Officers will now be wearing the latest body cameras in a bid to improve officer accountability and build transparency with the community. The department has used body cameras since 2015, but these new models are capable of recording two minutes of video before an officer even activates the recording device.

Police will also get new launchers that can be used as a less-lethal alternative during arrests. The launchers use sponge bullets which can be used up to five feet away from a person and cause less harm than bean bag rounds. The launchers cost about $1,400 apiece.

The body cameras and tasers cost around $175,000 a year.