Some Chicago police will start wearing body cameras

Starting in the next two weeks, some Chicago police officers will begin wearing body cameras, police announced today.

As part of a 45- to 60-day pilot program, officers working afternoon shifts in the Northwest Side’s Shakespeare District can wear body cameras on their headgear and clothing. The Shakespeare District covers parts of Logan Square, West Town and Humboldt Park.

“This new program … will ensure more transparency from CPD and a new view of the work performed by our officers,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement. “While they are not the be-all-end-all, I believe body cameras will strengthen police and community relations.”

The department is being provided 30 cameras that attach to officers’ glasses, headgear or clothing. Officers will turn the cameras on during routine stops as well as “high-risk situations,” according to the statement. They will be required to inform anyone they contact that they are being recorded.

The equipment is being provided by Taser International Inc., at no cost to the police department, according to a news release.

After 45 to 60 days, the police department will evaluate the program. A police spokesman did not have details on what would constitute a successful pilot program.

“It’s a pilot program; we’re trying to implement it and we’re going to try and address questions,” police spokesman Officer Veejay Zala said.

Widely publicized incidents across the country in which police officers killed civilians in the line of duty have magnified calls for body cameras over the past few months, said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois. Some say requiring officers to record incidents reduces incidents of excessive police force.

Read More