Should off-duty Cleveland officers working security be required to wear body cameras?

Posted at 6:52 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 18:57:35-04

Days after the City of Cleveland filed a motion to make police body cameras for officers working secondary employment optional, the Cleveland Community Police Commission is asking the federal judge to keep the requirement in place. 

In a May 5 filing, attorneys for the city asked Chief U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver to approve a proposal that would make body camera use during secondary employment “recommended but not required.” 

The motion cites an attempted pilot program that failed to garner a single volunteer from the 630 police officers who are authorized for part-time employment. 

According to a Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association memo to members dated April 25, officers were not encouraged to volunteer according to “official union policy.” 

Both the CPPA and the Fraternal Order of Police told News 5 they support the motion to make the cameras optional for several logistical reasons. 

“These things don’t just magically download themselves,” CPPA President Steve Loomis told News 5. 

He argued that part-time employers would not be interested in paying for an additional 45 minutes to an hour of overtime necessary to download videos. 

“The Indians are paying us. The Browns are paying us. Joe’s Deli down the road is paying us. They’re certainly not going to pay us to do administrative work that the city wants us to do,” he said. 

An alternate proposal that officers download the videos when they report for their next shift, also did not sit well with Capt. Brian Betley, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Cleveland Lodge 8.

“Why are you downloading stuff from your secondary employment while you’re on city time?” Betley said in a phone interview Tuesday. 

But Cleveland Community Police Commission member Mario Clopton-Zymler argued that officers should be held to the same standards whether or not they're on duty. 

“They have a badge, they have their gun, they have their uniform, they’re a police officer for the Division of Police regardless of who’s paying them,” Clopton-Zymler said. 

The CCPC released a statement Tuesday asking the court to stand firmly in support of requiring the use of body cameras whether officers are engaged in primary or secondary employment.

“This is about being proactive. If we wait for things to happen, we’re not learning the lessons of what this consent decree it about,” he said. 

News 5 reached to the monitoring team overseeing Cleveland’s consent decree but as of Tuesday night did not receive a response.