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Cleveland police don body cameras on road to reform

The Rachel Maddow Show plays a small role in showing the value of a more thorough record
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams makes a statement on May 30, 2014, regarding the indictment of six police officers involved in a November 2012 car chase that ended in the deaths of two unarmed people.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams makes a statement on May 30, 2014, regarding the indictment of six police officers involved in a November 2012 car chase that ended in the deaths of two unarmed people, was decried by critics as a racially motivated execution, and is part of a wide-ranging federal investigation.

Police officers in Cleveland's Fourth District deployed Wednesday wearing body cameras for the first time. 

As Cleveland officers hit the streets bearing the new technology, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams appeared before the city council's Safety Committee to detail the program.

Part of the discussion with the committee included the program's expansion to include dashboard cameras in police cars. The vice chair of the committee, Councilman Kevin Conwell, who had previously asserted a preference for dashboard cameras over body-mounted cameras, seemed pleased at the program's ambition, citing the Rachel Maddow Show's recent demonstration of the value of two-camera perspectives. The TRMS segment showed how body and dashboard video provided a more accurate picture of the arrest of a drug suspect by a Celina, Texas, police officer than dashboard camera video alone. 

From the committee meeting transcript:

Cleveland purchased 1,500 cameras two weeks ago after the city council approved legislation for the program in October.

Though body-mounted cameras for police became a national issue toward the end of 2014 after the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland has been researching and budgeting for body and dashboard-mounted cameras since at least early 2013.

In December, the Justice Department concluded an investigation of the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP), finding "reasonable cause to believe that CDP engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution." The report (pdf) coincided with mounting public outrage over the Michael Brown case, the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City police, and, at the end of November, the police shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who had been playing with a realistic-looking BB gun.