Cleveland: Chase/shooting renews calls for dashcams

6:41 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It's a question that has surfaced many times before in the wake of investigations of police chases and deadly shootings in Cleveland.

Should Cleveland police cruisers have dashcams, a technology that is now widely used by many departments?

The only video of part of last week's long police chase that ended in a hail of gunfire, killing two suspects, comes from dashcam video from a Bratenahl police car.

Only about 19 of 372 Cleveland police marked cars have dashcams, funded by a special pilot project.

The cost of outfitting the rest would be an estimated several million dollars.

Cleveland City Councilman Zachary Reed has been pushing to install cameras for years.

"It's the technology stupid.  And it comes down to, why are we not utilizing technology?....If you really wanted to do this, we'd be doing this," he said.

City and police officials have said the cost of adding cameras was not affordable, given the city's tight budget issues.

On manufacturers' websites, the cost of dashcams ranges from about $80 to $300 each.

In this case, cameras might have helped answer if suspects in the fleeing car were shooting at police or if there was a gun discarded from the car.

Spokesmen for both the Fraternal Order of Police and the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association said they would welcome the addition of cameras.

Both said that, with the prevalence of cell phone and iPad cameras, officers now assume their actions may be being captured on video. Both claim video would exonerate police and their actions.

Fraternal Order of Police President Brian Betley said, "I don't think there is any reason not to have them. I think it would help in a lot of cases. "

CPPA President Jeff Follmer said, "I wish there was a camera at this time on this incident."

Police on patrol already have computers.

Mayor Frank Jackson said an administrative review of this case would likely raise questions about the value and need for cameras.

"Our policy, as we move forward, is to have it in all the vehicles," he said.

Chief Michael McGrath said the department will also be reviewing the possible use of police personal cameras that can be worn on hats or uniforms.

Asked if the the upcoming review would likely urge police to adopt use of some pursuit cameras, he said, "I anticipate that would be the recommendation."

Channel 3 News spot-checked Northeast Ohio police departments for their use of dashcams.

Lakewood, Shaker Heights and Painesville police departments have them in all cruisers.

Akron, Lorain and Parma have them in most cars and Mentor is in the process of trying to get them.


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