Police departments across the country are using body cameras on its officers and that technology could soon come to Chicago.
The department cites conflicting stories between citizens and police officers during encounters as a reason for the body cam pilot program.
In the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown, the Ferguson Police Department now has over 50 body cameras – enough for every member of that department. Most of them were paid for through private contributions.
The cameras are battery-operated and record video and audio. Some models clip on to a uniform shirt at chest level. Others are shoulder mounted, or can be attached to glasses. Because of the cost, they are more prevalent in smaller police departments, but both New York and Los Angeles are testing their use.
“It makes everything a lot easier, especially for the court. I mean there’s nothing that solidifies the case than the video,” said Officer Jim Stover, Los Angeles Police Dept.
“Who does it benefit? It benefits the officer,” said Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
Supt. McCarthy said that the Chicago Police Department is in the very beginning stages of their pilot program for body cameras. Like Los Angeles, the program would initially involve a fairly small amount of officers.
Dash cams in squad cars were initially opposed by members of law enforcement, but today, more than half of Chicago’s police cars have them. They’ve been helpful in determining what really happened during encounters.
Supt. McCarthy did note that body cameras are more complex than those placed in squad cars. “Questions about who turns the camera on, who turns it off. Who retains the data, and the video, who has access to it afterwards?” Supt. McCarthy told ABC 7.
The department still has a number of questions regarding the body cameras, including when they should be turned on. Does a well-being check require the camera to be on without the homeowner’s permission if he or she has done nothing wrong? Does a civilian in a no arrest situation have the right to request that the camera be turned off? These are just a few the department is considering.
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