CLEVELAND (WJW) – An Akron ordinance that passed last year forced the city to promptly release body cam footage of the shooting death of Jayland Walker.

A similar emergency ordinance introduced in Cleveland in August 2021 is finally on it’s way to becoming law.  

“I submitted it almost a year ago and it was sat on, then it disappeared, so just recently again we said, ‘where is this legislation?’ and now we’re going to move on it,” said Mike Polensek, Cleveland Council Member Ward 8 and chairman of the public safety committee.

On Wednesday, the Codified Ordinance No. 694-2021 was reintroduced and passed by the safety committee.

The proposed new law, which must pass the full council vote on August 10, is designed to increase transparency and trust between Cleveland Police and the citizens they serve.

“The camera’s don’t lie,” said Polensek. “The taxpayers pay for those cameras and data retrieval so why shouldn’t you have the right to see the activity that took place?”

The ordinance states that following a police “use of deadly force” or other extreme situation video from a wearable camera system, dash cam or other device shall be released to the public within seven days to preserve the public’s peace, property, health or safety.

This is the case unless there is a legal reason to withhold the video. For example, if it could jeopardize a witness’s life or if the video is controlled by an outside agency other than Cleveland.

Any additional footage of the incident, redacted as consistent with applicable state and federal laws, shall be released within 30 days.

“I support the police and believe having the footage helps police and citizens alike,” said Polensek.

This comes at a time when officers are leaving the force at a record pace.

CPD had lost 139 officers since January alone and despite passing a budget for 1,640, the department is short 282 overall.

Polensek says quality recruits aren’t applying.

There are only 24 candidates in the next graduating class on August 12 and only 42 in the class expected to graduate on December 16.

“It’s just not here, it’s in other urban areas,” said Polensek, “For what a few officers have done, not only here but nationally, we vilify all people in law enforcement.”

Polensek and others on the safety committee hope the ordinance will close the divide and rebuild trust in the police department so that they can strengthen the force and make the city safer.

He says, right now, numbers are dangerously low and public safety is suffering. Traffic units are down. Specialized units are down and there are only two horses left in the mounted unit which once was one of the largest in the country. 

“We have got to support our men and women in blue,” he said. “So we can get officers back in community policing where they can start engaging with the kids, in the neighborhoods and parks. We’ve got to start building bridges here.”