Funding agreement pulled for Cleveland police dash cameras

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 12:19:03-05

New Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley is backing out of an agreement made by his predecessor to pay for police dash cameras for the City of Cleveland. 

In a January 5 letter to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, O’Malley wrote that the $500,000 award could not be made “without draining other officer accounts.” 

Former Cuyahoga Co. Prosecutor Tim McGinty planned to use funds from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund fueled by criminal forfeitures. 

But O’Malley argued that doing so would leave the office with insufficient operating funds. 

“If I were to honor my predecessor’s gift, it would be fiscally irresponsible, if not destructive, to the operation and integrity of this office,” O’Malley wrote. “This I cannot and will not do.” 

On Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for the City of Cleveland provided the following response: 

“The Cleveland Division of Police is currently conducting a pilot program with Dash Cams which will continue for the next 60 days or longer. During this time we hope there is sufficient time for the County Prosecutor’s office to conduct an audit of their finances."

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Associate. Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich told News 5 the announcement was surprising. 

“A prosecutor has to manage his own budget, but it is a significant reversal,” Witmer-Rich said. “It’s a sudden change, and we thought we would have a new and important tool.”

Witmer-Rich cited the huge impact video evidence can have in the criminal prosecution process. 

Former police detective and national security expert Tim Dimoff told News 5 that the technology would help pay for itself over time. 

“In the end, you save a lot of money from pays offs, from fighting litigation, from defending lawsuits,” Dimoff explained. 

O’Malley asked Cleveland’s Safety Department to refrain from purchasing the cameras until accounts could be audited and surplus funds are made available.