Toledo police may get more body cameras; fewer "no knock" warrants

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Two big changes could be coming to police work in the city of Toledo. More officers could be wearing body cameras, and you may see fewer controversial search warrants.

There have been a lot of protests in the last few weeks. Some specific requests have come out of the discussions that followed, with one in particular that certain officers wearing body cams who currently do not. That may now happen.

Many Toledo police officers currently wear them. The SWAT team and gang unit do not. Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes would like that to change.

“I'd like to see every officer that engages with the public to have on a body camera,” said Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes.

Sykes knows cameras and the video storage space are costly but says the public wants the transparency, and it could protect officers, too.

"People say 'Well, this is going to say this is going to cost more money.' Yes it is. But every time there's a lawsuit filed by or some action from a citizen we pay out more money for a body cam than we do if we were to get body cams if we can dispute what the citizen is saying," said Sykes.

Sykes would also like to tweak what are called "no knock" warrants, police entering a building without any warning after a judge signs off.

"Often times there's not a thorough investigation as to what it says 'subject should be here' or 'supposed to be here', 'we've got to get him now'. History has shown repeatedly that it's been wrong, the homes have been wrong,” said Sykes.

Sykes says the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville illustrates when a “no knock” warrant can go terribly wrong and believes the warrant should only be used when police are totally sure the person they need is inside.

"I'm talking about high profile crimes and they know for a fact that that person is there, not through hearsay or they have not observed that. But they know for a fact that this is the only time we can get this individual,” said Sykes.

Sykes is not asking to eliminate the warrants all together, just have them reserved for major violent crime. 13abc asked Sykes if this warrant restriction would affect drug cases, and he says that would depend on the amount of drugs and the circumstances.

Toledo City Councilman Gary Johnson estimates the department needs about 150 more cameras. Each cost about $650, and the storage space will be very costly.

The full city council may vote next Tuesday.