CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland City Council safety committee members at a Wednesday meeting approved spending $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to outfit all the city’s front-line police cars with dashboard cameras.
Officials will now seek proposals from vendors on a five-year contract to install and maintain the cameras in all of the city’s about 300 police vehicles that respond to crime or traffic incidents.
Karrie Howard, public safety director, said he hopes to begin installing them early next year.
“They’re good for transparency. They’re good for fact-finding. They’re good for evidence to support prosecution. They’re good for accountability,” he said. “It’s something city council has wanted. It’s something the citizens have wanted. It’s something the Division of Police and the Department of Public Safety has wanted. And it’s important to this administration.”
The committee’s Vice-Chair Joseph Jones, Ward 1 councilperson, called it “a great investment” into the city, completing what officials started by approving body cameras for officers in 2016.
Currently, the city only operates body-worn cameras mounted to officers’ vest carriers, said the police department’s new Deputy Chief Dorothy Todd. But when officers are in their cars, they only capture the steering wheel or dashboard.
“It’ll give the officers the capability to not only see what is happening in front of them but also will capture what’s going on in the back seat, if they have somebody in custody that they’re transporting,” she said.
The $2.3 million in approved spending would include the cameras’ installation, cloud storage, software and maintenance, Howard said. The initial five-year contract would be paid with some of the city’s more than $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding. After that, upkeep for the cameras would become part of the city’s budget, just like its bodycams, Howard said.
The measure will next go before the council’s finance committee, then the full council body for final approval.