Cleveland: What's changed after police chase shooting?

5:44 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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Photo from the night of the police-involved shooting in which two people were killed.
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CLEVELAND -- It's been about six months since the infamous wild crosstown chase that ended in a hail of police gunfire that killed apparently unarmed suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

The job of disciplining police for rule violations is partially complete.

Supervisors have been punished. Officers will face hearings this month.

A grand jury will decide if any officers face criminal charges for the shootings.

The incident also brought calls for better equipment and new policies.

Some things were in place to change. Others are changing because of the incident. And some things remain the same.

Fewer than 10 Cleveland cruisers have dashcams. None were at the scene of the shooting.

Both police unions said Cleveland should have camera technology to capture confrontations involving officers and suspects.

The city was already deciding whether to use in-car cameras or body cameras worn by officers.

A decision has been made to purchase body cameras. The $2.5 million purchase will take place over three years, with the first units expected to be operating late this year.

Some confusion during the chase was blamed on an aging radio system.

Plans were already underway to convert all Cleveland city radios to a single, improved system.

Police should get their upraded radios in August. Each officer will have their own unit.

"The old system aged out...The new system will meet the needs of the 21st Century," said Cleveland Safety Director Marty Flask. 

During the chase, some officers radioed for spiked stopsticks to try and halt the chase.

None were available. Several units were broken.

Flask says the city believes stopsticks have more value in highway chases, not those on city streets, and can be dangerous if used improperly.

"The philosophy on stopsticks is changing dramatically...The Chief and his staff are deciding whether they will ever recommend stopsticks in the City of Cleveland," Flask said.

Police helicoptors were grounded during the chase. City Hall believes they are too expensive to fly nonstop.

"Nothing has changed and whether there will be any change is unclear," Flask said.

Officers are getting a required three hours a year of special training for driving in high-speed chases.

New policies for chases and use of deadly force are being drafted.

"We're reaching to some point in the not too distant future where we'll say all we can do has been done" Flask said.

But ultimately, the human factor controls everything, he admitted.

Twelve of thirteen officers who fired shots during the shootout have returned to street duty.

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