Cleveland Police Cars are Getting Dash Cams


County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty bestowed what one might call a parting gift upon the Cleveland Division of Police: a $500,000 grant to fund the installation of dash cameras in about 275 cruisers. If it seems odd that the department wasn't already using dash cams, McGinty would agree; he cited the costly investigation into the shooting deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell as Exhibit A in the need for the cameras.

"Grand juries will be able to see exactly what happened and hear what was said," McGinty wrote in the wake of the Michael Brelo acquittal. "Cams will prevent a Blue Wall from obstructing the view. The dash and body cams will be an unblinking eyewitness to the true facts of every crime."

To wit: Imagine a dash cam in officer Frank Garmback's car on Nov. 22, 2014.

The city will install Taser cameras — made by the same company that makes the police department's body cameras — and will take on an annual cost of a bout $128,000 to keep the equipment up to snuff. The dash cams and body cams will sync up when in use during, say, a speed chase or an arrest or an officer-involved shooting.

Now, about the money: The $500,000 comes from a criminal forfeiture pool at the prosecutor's office. Following a verdict (or a guilty plea), the courts may seize a defendant's property and return it to, e.g., the prosecutor's office as cash value. McGinty has maintained the $500,000 grant as a standing offer to Cleveland for almost two years now. (The city insists it had been taking its time to study various types of dash cams.)

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