July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Grants drying up to outfit sheriff’s cruisers

State and federal grants have put cameras in most of the Medina County sheriff’s cruisers, but the county may have to pick up the bill to outfit the rest.

Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Schmoll said many of the state and federal sources of money are drying up.

“The government is denying more of my requests now,” he said.

Since 2006, 11 of the department’s 16 cruisers have been equipped with dashboard cameras that record traffic stops.

The cost to outfit the remaining five cruisers and replace the three older models in the next two to three years will be around $40,000, he said.

The cameras can be used to provide video evidence for court, reduce liability in complaints against the department, aid in disciplining errant deputies and for training purposes, Schmoll said.

The department uses the Digital Video Mirror system by Digital Ally Inc. Three of the cameras are DVM 500 models that are seven years old.

The cost of the cameras is $5,000 and Schmoll said 90 percent of that has come through grants.

But the money is harder to get.

“Grants are more competitive,” Sgt. Bev Fraser said. “There’s less money available and more people want it, so it’s getting harder to get funding.”

In past years, Schmoll has obtained some funding through Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Co., and many other grants have come through the Ohio Department of Criminal Justice Services — commonly called JAGs (Justice Assistance Grants).

The most recent grant in 2012, an Edward Byrne Memorial JAG through the Department of Criminal Justice Services, gave the department $8,000 with local match of about $900. The department received another $1,150 through other sources, and purchased two cameras.

Fraser said the department has applied for a JAG-Law Enforcement grant that it hopes to hear good news about on Nov. 15. That could provide a couple more cameras. She said another grant will be filed by the end of the month that could buy four more systems.

“We’re hoping that we get enough out of those two that we can finish our camera project off,” she said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.