By Eric Heisig, Cleveland Plain Dealer (Mar. 14, 2017)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The city of Cleveland plans to test out the use of body-worn cameras for police officers who work off-duty security details.
The pilot program, the details of which are still being fleshed out, comes after the team monitoring the city's progress under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department pointed out what it saw as flaws with the city's body camera policy. Namely, that the city does not require officers to wear them while working uniformed security details at places like the Quicken Loans Arena or local bars.
While the city's settlement, known as a consent decree, does not require Cleveland to buy body cameras, it does require the city to develop protocols that outline training guidelines and policies for how the recordings would be stored and used in subsequent investigations.
The city has used body cameras for the past few years and has attributed them to a drop in complaints against officers.
Head monitor Matthew Barge said the police department claims there aren't many instances where officers used force while working secondary employment. He said, though, that the police department's claim is a "working hunch," since the city did not have the data to back up the claim.
Barge said the use might boil down to two things: making sure the officers charge the camera's battery before going to an off-duty shift and uploading and cataloguing any relevant footage from the off-duty shift to the city's databases.
Barge said while logistics are being explored, uploading video from a security detail might require an officer to do so the next time he or she works a city shift. He said he does not believe either charging or uploading would take a lot of time.
Greg White, the city's consent decree coordinator, said there are "a lot of unanswered questions that a pilot program would answer."
A plan for the off-duty pilot program must be turned into the judge overseeing the police reform by April 28.
Even though officers are not required to wear body cameras while working security details, they wear their full uniforms and carry their standard-issued equipment, including a firearm. Barge pointed out that the public does not know the difference between an officer on duty or working an off-duty shift when they see an officer in public.
He said the police department, law department and other city divisions "all have an interest in knowing what an officer is doing during secondary employment."
The deadline to create pilot program for body cameras was part of a plan the monitor filed Tuesday on city's second-year goals for police report.
As previously reported, many of the projects the city will need to finish -- training on new use-of-force and crisis-intervention policies, creating equipment and staffing plans and hiring a head of the Internal Affairs division -- were supposed to be finished in the first year.
The plan also calls for continued work on investigating and adjudicating citizen complaints.
The city will also focus on creating policies for community-oriented policing, bias-free policing, They will also draft policies on search and seizure and work more on officer training.