Local Dirt from the Paris of the Rust Belt

An eye on you



So if dash cams have been installed in cop cruisers in almost every municipality in the state, then why not in Cleveland? Councilman Zack Reed and now Councilman Kevin Conwell (former and current public safety committee chairmen, respectively) have failed for the last six years to get police to budget the $3-$5 million needed to institute the change on about 350 "frontline" vehicles. On Monday, outside council's committee room, Safety Director Martin Flask reiterated how logistical and financial shortfalls are holding the movement down. He also foresees the need to bolster computer networks and redirect some manpower if the cams are to be fully instituted. But still, he says, "This is something I want to accomplish before retiring again." But isn't $5 million small potatoes within the department's $184.5 million annual budget? Police Chief Mike McGrath butted in to add his only comment: "About 94 percent of our budget is personnel." Yeah, those damn unions and their pay and benefits and stuff. Dan Harkins


Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman doesn't think that allowing armed security guards licensed with the city to pack cop-standard 9mm semi-automatic handguns — as opposed to the .38 revolvers they're currently allowed — is going to make the city any safer. Safety Director Flask and Police Chief McGrath were pushing for council's legislative committee to approve the change on Monday, which would allow those guards granted minor misdemeanor arrest powers in Cleveland the right to carry the same firearms as police, as well as add the requirement for immediate police notification of discharge and an extra 32 hours of training. "I'm going to say it: Are more guns the answer?" asked Cimperman. "Do I want a gunman at the local convenience store at night with the ability to [use] his weapon in a frightening situation where policemen are going to have a tough time deciding: 'Draw or don't draw?'" Flask called such incidents a "rarity." Others didn't see what the argument was about: "They're facing criminals on the street with firepower greater than what we allow them to have," said Ward 5 Councilwoman and Committee Chairwoman Phyllis Cleveland, who kept dissent to a minimum before passing the new law along to the finance committee. — Harkins


Blogger Jill Miller Zimon (writeslikeshetalks.com) is running for council in Pepper Pike.

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