CLEVELAND – The use of police body cameras was the subject of an intense discussion Saturday. Concerned citizens continue to ask questions about them, as the City of Cleveland continues to fine tune its policy on how they are used.
The Greater Cleveland Civil and Human Rights Coalition organized a community forum to address police accountability. The suggestion is that body cameras will create greater transparency when it comes to citizen complaints of police use of excessive force. “As long as they continue to control when the cameras are on or off, whether or not it has to be disclosed and if it is disclosed how it is edited, all of those three things suggest that what you will get from the body cameras is not the transparency you’re looking for,” Civil Rights Attorney Shahid Buttar said of the police.
Officers in Cleveland’s fourth district started wearing body cameras earlier this year. Citizens are now posing questions on how and when they are used. “We heard a lot about accountability. The real test is going to be how can you capture video and have accountability and make sure that video that is collected isn’t manipulated,” Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone said.
The Cleveland police have outlined the use of body cameras in an 11-page policy and procedure document that has already undergone revisions. “It has changed. I think that this is like in its fourth or fifth draft of it and this is the newest version and you can see that there is new stuff that has been added,” Councilman Zone said.
Will Tarter is a community advocate who is on a review committee for Cleveland body camera policy. “There are conversations about public records. There are conversations about discipline. There are conversations about the actual policy, the technology. There are a lot of conversations that are taking place,” Tarter said.
Community meetings are scheduled seeking more feedback on the use of police body cameras, before they are expected to be put into use in the Cleveland’s second district. The next meeting will be held on April 22 at 6pm, at the Collinwood Rec Center.