Cleveland police officers began wearing body cameras during their patrols of the city's East Side on Wednesday, after four hours of training on the cameras' functions and policy governing their use, Chief Calvin Williams told members of City Council's Safety Committee.
Cleveland chose Taser International's AXON flex and body cameras and bought a five-year subscription to EVIDENCE.com, the company's digital evidence storage and management system. The city bought 1,500 cameras last month - 375 flex and 1,125 body cameras. The program will cost $2.4 million. Police officials said they expect to deploy all of the cameras by the end of June.
According to the newly drafted policy, officers will be required to record during pedestrian or vehicle investigative stops, pursuits and emergency driving situations, crime or accident scenes, physical violence, civil disturbances, criminal suspicious activity or police use-of-force incidents, Cleveland.com reports.
Encounters with victims, witnesses or suspects also will be recorded. Officers are required to alert citizens that the interaction is being recorded. A victim or witness can ask the officer to turn off the camera. A supervisor must approve the decision to deactivate, and when practical, officers are advised to record the victim or witness stating that they do not wish to be recorded.
The chief said that the department will give officers time to become accustomed to the technology. But eventually officers will face discipline for failing to turn on their cameras or upload footage. Discipline would begin with a written reprimand. Subsequent infractions could lead to a 10-day suspension.