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Cleveland City Council passes law requiring city to release body and dash camera footage of use-of-force incidents within 7 days

"The camera doesn't lie."

CLEVELAND — The city of Cleveland will be required to release body camera or dash camera footage of police use-of-force incidents within seven days after council passed legislation on Wednesday.

“I’ve been advocating for this a long time,” said Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek, who sponsored the legislation. “I pushed for body cams years ago. They are an insurance policy for the men and women who serve our city. They are an insurance policy for our residents as well. The camera doesn’t lie.”

The legislation mandates that Cleveland's director of public safety release video taken by bodycams or dash cams of incidents involving a police officer’s use of deadly force within seven days. It also includes videos from incidents where the force caused serious physical harm.

The footage will be released by making it publicly available on the city's website. The council says any additional remaining footage of the incident, redacted as consistent with applicable state and federal laws, shall be released within 30 days.

The legislation states that the “released footage shall be from at least three City recording devices or, if the incident is recorded by fewer than three…, the released footage shall be from all City recording devices that recorded the incident. The released footage shall begin at least 60 seconds prior to the incident or at the beginning of the recording, whichever is shorter.”

You can read the legislation below:

In 2021, Akron City Council passed a similar ordinance requiring the release of video footage of use-of-force incidents within one week. That law became noteworthy after the death of Jayland Walker, as Akron police released body camera footage of officers fatally shooting the 25-year-old just six days after the incident. The release of the video caused days of protests in downtown Akron and a curfew to be imposed on several occasions by mayor Dan Horrigan. 

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