After acknowledging the initial horror many experienced when viewing video footage of Laquan McDonald being shot and killed by Chicago police, everyone started to notice the same thing – there was no sound. New records suggest that was more than a mere coincidence and reveals a pattern in CPD officers tampering with dashcams and hiding microphones.
Adding to the negative attention that Chicago police have been on the receiving end of for a few months now, it’s recently been revealed that officers are playing an active role in making it so there’s no audio in dashcam footage.
How much is this happening? Well, according to DNAinfo, the reason no audio can be found in a whopping 80 percent of police dashcam videos is because of “intentional destruction.” This means that police officers are making a concerted effort to hide potential injustices and subvert accountability.
In the specific case of Laquan McDonald, who was killed by former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, only two of the five cameras recorded video footage of the shooting and none had working audio.
Van Dyke’s vehicle actually had a history of repetitive repairs to the audio system. On June 17,2014, it was reported that dashcam wiring issues in police vehicle No. 6412, which Van Dyke shared with his partner, Joesph Walsh, had been repaired. But this was actually three months after it was reported broken, according to DNAinfo.
Only a day later, the same vehicle was reported to have re-damaged its dashcam system again only to be repaired again four months later on Oct. 8. It was less than two weeks later that Van Dyke’s dashcam system failed to record audio of him shooting and killing McDonald.
But Van Dyke’s clear tampering with CPD dashcam technology wasn’t what one would call a rare case. As a matter of fact, The Chicago Sun-Times reports that it was a recurring problem in the police department in 2014-15.
According to reports, microphones were completely missing from Chicago Police vehicles 86 of the 1,700 times they were checked for maintenance in an 11-month period. There were also 29 times that the microphones weren’t properly synced to the system.
While the inclusion of dashcam footage isn’t a new concept to Chicago police, there are still clear examples of them being disregarded as a tool – in some cases, more intentionally than others. They were introduced for a reason and before anyone can talk about getting Chicago police to wear body cameras like other departments have started to, we need to make sure they’re using the camera they’ve already been given.
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