Police Body Cams Discussed With Cleveland City Council Members

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The timeline, expense, and policies for the 1500 cameras were outlined during the two-hour meeting. Council members got to see the units up close, and ask CPD officials how the $2.4 million program will be implemented in the coming months.

Councilman Zack Reed praised the initiative, saying video footage of police interactions will hold both officers…and the citizens they serve…accountable. Reed recalled how a police shooting several years ago appeared to be an unjustified use of force, largely based on a senior citizen’s testimony.

“But then, during a thorough investigation, we found out that the senior citizen could not see what she said she saw,” said Reed. “And yet that police officer had to go through hell until the evidence came out that the police officer had done the right thing when he had to shoot that particular person.”

Reed is also pushing for dash cams for squad cars. Cleveland’s Public Safety Director Michael McGrath and Police Chief Calvin Williams told Reed that they’re looking at the possibility.

One question raised was whether officers could access video footage and alter or delete it. Chief Williams said they could.

“But the system itself has an audit trail,” he continued. “So anybody that logs in the system has to first off have credentials and any user’s audit trail can be…basically a report, can be printed out, on their access to the system, and exactly what videos they access.”

Another topic was when officers would use cameras. Situations and circumstances will include vehicle pursuits and stops, arriving at crime or accident scenes, and checking out disturbances.

One resident asked about penalties for officers who chose not to activate their cameras, or shut off them off during such situations. Williams said under his jurisdiction, such actions could result in a written reprimand, and up to 10 days suspension.

If the action was deemed egregious enough, the Public Safety Director could review the matter and suspend or terminate the officer.

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