Chicago Police considers use of body cameras

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Chicago police officers gather in the Dirksen Federal Building Plaza. The organization is open to emerging ideas about the inclusion of body cameras on officers. (Photo courtesy of ALLAN J. AGUILAR)

Chicago police officers gather in the Dirksen Federal Building Plaza. The organization is open to
emerging ideas about the inclusion of body cameras on officers. (Photo courtesy of ALLAN J. AGUILAR)

Chicago police spokesman Marty Maloney told the Chicago Tribune that the police department is considering testing the use of body cameras on its officers.

The department stated it has started looking into a pilot program, but Maloney insists that there are no solid plans in place at this time.

Chicago has spent $521 million on police misconduct settlements since 2004, with almost $85 million of that sum being spent solely on last year’s settlements, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Conversations surrounding police cameras are at an all-time high, and the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri with their newly implemented law of the use of police body cameras sparked conversation nationally of other larger cities implementing similar policies.

The New York City Police Department introduced a similar idea in July, hoping to push for more transparency within the department.

The NYPD tested two brands of cameras that cost between $400 and $900 each and are each roughly the size of a pager. The Chicago Police Department is looking into this as well.

Success stories on the use of the cameras have circulated as well, creating a strong backing by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

About a year ago, Guardian correspondent Rory Carrol reported about the city of Rialto, California and the results of using body cameras with their officers.

The number of misconduct complaints against the police decreased by 88 percent, and the use of force by the police officers in interactions with citizens decreased by 60 percent.

A statement by the ACLU encouraging other cities to adopt the practice said “bodyworn cameras in particular provide important benefits that vehicle mounted or other stationary cameras cannot, by going wherever officers go and capturing the incidents that take place away from the patrol vehicle.”

The organization also stated that the Department of Justice thinks that use of cameras by law enforcement “improves the judicial system by providing effective video evidence and increases officer safety by deterring violent behavior and helping to convict those who attack officers.”