All Chicago officers to be equipped with body cameras by end of 2017, mayor says

CHICAGO -- Chicago authorities say all police officers will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2017, a year ahead of schedule.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says in a Wednesday statement announcing the speeded up schedule that body cameras “improve transparency while building trust.”

Scrutiny of police intensified after the release of a squad-car video last year ago showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation and Emanuel pledged sweeping reforms. The city launched its body-camera program in 2015 and expanded it following protest over the McDonald video.

Wednesday’s statement didn’t include costs or camera numbers. But police said in September that 2,000 body cameras were in use and that 5,000 more would be bought for around $8 million.

By the end of next year, it is a task every Chicago patrol officer will be expected to take before hitting the street, because by then, each one will have a body camera, CBS Chicago reports.

“Turn the camera on at the beginning of your tour of duty,” said Chicago Police Commander Marc Buslik. “The switch is flipped over.”

“The net benefit is greater safety and security to our officers and an overall improved interaction with our communities,” Cmdr. Buslik said.

The city’s body cam pilot program launched in the Shakespeare district in 2015. Then expanded to six more districts last year.

The budget passed by city council included $2.8 million to expand to seven more districts, but another $2.8 million, from money that was not needed for the property tax rebate program, is now being used to complete a citywide roll-out one year ahead of schedule.

“The policy is the officer will turn on the camera,” Cmdr. Buslik said. “They are being held accountable for doing so.”

But the officer who shot and killed Paul O’Neal last August, after a wild car chase and then foot chase, did not have his camera on.

“The officer had just recently received the camera as they had in that district,” Cmdr. Buslik said.

Like any other piece of technology, it is a question of getting used to it.

Fraternal order of Police President Dean Angelo said that officer was new to the camera, and though he’d turned it on, but turned it off by mistake.

“We want to make sure they are trained properly beforehand,” Angelo said. “We don’t want officers vilified for an honest mistake.”

Dean Angelo told CBS 2 he is also protesting because the FOP was not notified about the body cam expansion before the announcement, as they should have been.

The city may also be aiming to get ahead of the ongoing federal investigation into Chicago’s police. The Justice Department has recommended body cams as the result of similar investigations in other cities.


Chicago speeds up plan to equip officers with body cameras

AP
CHICAGO –  Chicago authorities say all police officers will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2017, a year ahead of schedule.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says in a Wednesday statement announcing the speeded up schedule that body cameras "improve transparency while building trust."

Scrutiny of police intensified after the release of a squad-car video last year ago showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation and Emanuel pledged sweeping reforms. The city launched its body-camera program in 2015 and expanded it following protest over the McDonald video.

Wednesday's statement didn't include costs or camera numbers. But police said in September that 2,000 body cameras were in use and that 5,000 more would be bought for around $8 million.


Chicago Police Body-Camera Rollout To Be Finished Early: Mayor

Chicago will complete the rollout of body-worn cameras for its police officers a year earlier than planned to increase transparency and rebuild trust in a department currently under a federal civil rights investigation, the mayor said on Wednesday.

The new timeline has all officers wearing the cameras by the end of 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Emanuel has worked to overhaul the police force, which has about 12,500 sworn officers, in the wake of the investigation, introducing a new use of force policy and pledging to add nearly 1,000 officers. A body camera pilot project was launched in January 2015.

A number of high-profile misconduct incidents, most notably the release in 2015 of a video of the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white officer Jason Van Dyke, has thrust Chicago into a national debate over police use of force, particularly within minority communities. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting the probe of the department.

“Body cameras, while not a panacea, are a win-win for officers and the public,” Emanuel said in a statement. “They provide a firsthand look at the dangerous situations officers encounter on a daily basis, and improve transparency while building trust.”

The union representing Chicago police officers voiced displeasure over the lack of communication about the accelerated rollout of the cameras.

The union would prefer a broader range of footage released so the public also sees video showing mistreatment of officers, union president Dean Angelo Sr said in a telephone interview.

“We don’t see the encounters that are challenging, disrespectful and borderline illegal, threatening someone in uniform just because they are in uniform,” he said.

At a Wednesday demonstration, police Commander Marc Buslik said he was most concerned with the cameras invading the privacy of crime victims or bystanders during police encounters.

Buslik could not detail the amount each police camera will cost the city since the accelerated plan was not originally in the 2017 budget, but said the mayor’s office had the funds to pay for it.

All patrol officers will be trained to turn on body cameras whenever they make a personal encounter, he said. For those who do not, disciplinary action has yet to be determined.

In July, a Chicago police officer killed a black teenager after he stole a car, but the fatal shots were not captured because a policeman’s body camera was not recording.

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