Stepping up safety: Cleveland officers will be armed with body cameras

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CLEVELAND- Cleveland City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday night that will arm the city’s police officers with body cameras.

Serious discussions about the cameras, which can be worn on the officer's body,  or mounted on the dashboard,  began after the November 2012 police chase and shooting that left two unarmed suspects dead.

Some citizens wanted the cameras immediately purchased, but Councilman Matt Zone, co-chair of the Safety Council, said it took time to properly research the cameras. “There’s something called due process,” said Zone.

The city had tested the portable cameras this summer.

At a recent meeting, both Police Chief Calvin Williams and Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath said the cameras worked quite well.

One thousand cameras will be purchased for $1.6 million and be worn by 200 patrol officers in each of the city’s five police districts.

The target date to start using them is the first quarter of 2015.

But some council members like Zack Reed said six months is too long to wait in light of recent incidents.

He said there have been three situations in 30 days with officers forced to defend themselves including two police-involved shootings this past weekend.

“That shows why these cameras are so important because it at least gives us a clearer picture of what happened,” said Reed.

Council members said in the long run the cameras should help create a safer city with better relations between officers and the citizens.

But Reed said the cameras are just part of the solution. He said additional training would also be helpful in increasing trust between officers and the citizens they protect.

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