Beachwood City Council authorized the spending of $256,448.20 to improve areas of its police department during its city council meeting Nov. 2.
That includes the purchase of 60 body cameras and 15 dashboard cameras containing five-year warranties at a cost of $220,745; an annual subscription to Lexipol, LLC, of Frisco, Texas, to provide policy manuals, training bulletins and consulting services at a cost $30,703.20, including a one-time implementation fee of $18,000; and an annual subscription at a cost of $12,703.20.
Beachwood Police Chief Kelly Stillman recommended both purchases.
The purchases are in response to a June 27, 2019, incident at Beachwood Place in which police officer Blake Rogers shot and injured a shoplifting suspect. In that incident, Rogers’ body cam failed to record.
“We did not have body cam footage,” Stillman said. “All we had was some dash cam footage. So this is going to correct any type of instances. That’s why we’re making the purchase.”
Stillman thanked council for backing the purchases after the 6-0 votes on both ordinances to authorize spending.
Voting in favor were Barbara Bellin Janovitz, Justin Berns, Eric Synenberg, Mike Burkons, June Taylor and Alec Isaacson. Council president James Pasch was absent.
“It’s the right direction,” Stillman said. “It’s a great feeling to know you’re behind me 100% in making these purchases.”
Stilman explained the advantages of Lexipol.
“Lexipol is the industry leader for policies in police work,” Stillman told council. “As you know, Beachwood Police Department was fully accredited for a number of years. That accreditation has since dissipated and has not been renewed for a number of years. Lexipol will bring us to where we need to be.”
He said the company will notify the Beachwood department of any changes in federal law or state laws, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
“We will also have daily training bulletins every month that all of my officers will be required to take, which accounts for understanding and adherence to each policy,” he said.
Noting Stillman’s strong endorsement of Lexipol, councilman Isaacson asked Stillman if he had a business relationship with Lexipol.
“Do you get any sort of a commission for signing up Beachwood as a customer?” Isaacson asked.
“No sir,” Stillman said.
As to the body cameras and dash cameras, councilman Burkons asked how old Beachwood’s existing body cameras are.
Stillman said they are just three years old, but their warranty is expiring.
“Actually, the software changes and the warranties on those cameras are front to back,” Stillman said. “They cover everything known to man that could possibly happen to them, but they only cover ’em for a three-year period.”
He said the current Watchguard dash cam and body cams will be synchronized. Beachwood previously used a Panasonic system for dash cams.
“Before, we had to use like a workaround for the Watchguard body cam to be able to sync to the Panasonic system,” he said. “And when it was critical to do so, it did not work. This is in reference to the Beachwood Place shooting back in June of last year.”
Rogers shot and injured a suspect wanted in the theft of a baseball hat from Dillard’s at the mall on June 27, 2019. A manhunt followed, with Jaquan Jones, 20, being arrested one month later in Cleveland on unrelated charges. Jones was sentenced to 12 to 16 years in the Beachwood Place incident, in which he ran over Rogers’ foot, as well as two other cases.
Rogers has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting and receiving an annual salary of $92,206.40, plus benefits. He has filed a lawsuit against the city, partly in response to the length of time he has spent on administrative leave.
Stillman, who became chief on Sept. 28, said he is conducting an internal investigation to determine whether Rogers violated any internal policies. That investigation should be done before the holidays, he previously told the Cleveland Jewish News.
Stillman replaced Gary Haba, who retired in July. Capt. Richard Lessick had been in charge of the department in the interim.