The city of Akron, Ohio, in an effort to improve relations between citizens and law enforcement, has passed an ordinance requiring the city’s police department to upload body cam footage to YouTube within seven days of any use of “deadly force”.
The issue was first placed on the ballot in November 2020, and nearly 89% of voters supported the measure. “The voters of Akron made it very clear when they came out to overwhelmingly support this charter amendment,” City Council President Margo Sommerville said in a statement. “This new law prioritizes the interests of the citizens we all serve.”
Along with releasing body cam footage, the new law requires the city to release any available video footage taken by government-operated cameras in the area an incident has occurred. Akron’s city council says that these videos will all be uploaded on a dedicated YouTube page committed to holding law enforcement accountable.
“This ordinance is the result of more than a year of community engagement, research, and preparation,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “Akron is now a leader among peer cities across the country when it comes to public accountability in police use of force cases. This ordinance demonstrates our commitment to being open, transparent and—importantly—consistent.”
Last night, Akron City Council voted to enact a law that will require the City to release video footage that documents an Akron Police officer’s use of deadly force or force that results in serious bodily injury within 7 days of the incident. Read more: https://t.co/IzhvKGVvli pic.twitter.com/74sql0Ojm9
— City of Akron, Ohio (@AkronOhioMayor) June 29, 2021
Akron is another city on an ever-growing list of those making changes to how their police department conducts business. While many city councils are calling to simply “defund the police,” the city of Akron is taking actual steps to maintain law and order while also holding police officers accountable for their actions.
Earlier this year, an Akron police officer resigned after his body cam showed footage of the officer shoving snow into a man’s face as he was on the ground. At the time the city would not release the video, and instead held a press conference on the matter. While incidents like this would not fall into the category of using “deadly force”, Councilman Shammas Malik said this ordinance was a great step towards the goal of transparency.
Repeatedly shoving a Black man’s face in the snow is NOT correct police procedure! Former @Akron_Police officer John Turnure’s excessive use of force resulting in the victim screaming “I can’t breathe” is inexcusable! This is why we push for police accountability! pic.twitter.com/omlHKUUnVl
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 10, 2021
“There are certainly incidents that don’t rise to the level of deadly force or serious bodily injury that very much are of public interest,” Malik said. “So, I hope that we kind of continue this in ongoing conversation, but I really want to applaud the administration and President Sommerville and Vice President Fusco for this step.”
The new law also provides people the opportunity to request body cam footage in the event that a situation falls into the murkier areas of “deadly force” being used. If an individual believes that the department has failed to release footage of “deadly force” being used, they can file a petition for its release.
“This law just really takes all that discretion and guesswork away, and makes it really clear that within seven days of these critical incidents, that that video is going to be released,” said Ellen Lander Nischt, press secretary for the city of Akron. When asked about the issue of personal privacy with the release of these videos she said that “the only time that any videos would be redacted would be if there’s a state or federal law that prohibits the city from putting information out.”
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