CPD to expand body camera program for officers - Chicago Tribune

Following days of protests after the release of the video showing the fatal police shooting of a Chicago teen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced Sunday that police officers will wear body cameras in six additional police districts by mid-2016.

"Equipping every officer with a wearable camera device allows us to harness the power of technology to better serve the people of Chicago," McCarthy said in a statement Sunday. "In addition to protecting police officers and citizens, cameras have been shown to reduce citizen complaints against police and are great tools for evidence gathering and training as they allow us to learn from actual encounters with the public."

After testing body cameras in one district for nearly 11 months, the city will announce the six police districts where officers will wear body cameras "in the coming days." The Chicago Police Department will be buying the cameras, which can record up to 72 hours on a single charge in high definition, in February. The new cameras can also double as in-vehicle recording devices.

"Improving public safety and making Chicago a safer city has been one of my highest priorities," Emanuel said in a statement. "Expanding this successful program into one-third of the city will help enhance transparency and credibility as well as strengthen the fabric of trust that is vital between police and the community."

The program is expected to be funded with a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and $1.1 million in matching funds from the city. CPD also has applied for state grants to assist with camera purchases, storage, maintenance, upload stations and other program-related costs.

The expanded body-worn camera program will include automatic equipment upgrades every 30 months to ensure officers have the best technology available.

Since January, the Shakespeare District, which encompasses Logan Square, Bucktown and Wicker Park, as well as parts of Avondale and Humboldt Park, has tested 30 body cameras on routine calls for service, investigative stops, traffic stops, emergency vehicle responses and evidence collection. So far, police have recorded more than 4,600 videos totaling more than 745 hours, according to the city.

In the past, McCarthy has pointed to research which shows that citizen complaints dropped by as much as 80 percent for some police departments using body cameras.

The push for police departments to test body cameras has been a renewed endeavor in the wake of a number of high-profile, police-involved shootings. The most recent case to garner national attention is the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Last week, the city released a police vehicle's dash-cam video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting the teen. The video's release came on the same day Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.

tbriscoe@tribpub.com

@_tonybriscoe