Audio and video surveillance of police officers while on duty should substantially reduce reports of police misconduct in Chicago. However, time and time again, police have not reported it to their superiors when dashcams are not properly working, or they have failed to upload footage when their shifts end, as departments require. These oversights have made it difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether police are violating the civil rights of innocent Chicago residents. However, the city of Chicago is now finally getting more serious about pursuing cases of police misconduct in the city by using a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to purchase more than 450 body cameras for Chicago police officers.
How Chicago Police Will use the New Body Cams
The use of body cams by Chicago police officers began in 2015 as part of a pilot program. Initially confined only to Logan Square and West Town, the new body cameras will also be used by police officers in Washington Park, Hyde Park, and Kenwood, among other neighborhoods. All in all, officers on patrol in about one-third of the city should be outfitted with body cams when the new cameras arrive later this spring.
Officers will be required to upload any footage taken by the cams to department computers at the end of each shift. Police officers on patrol have expressed some concerns that the cameras are an invasion of privacy, however, rather than infringing on the rights of police officers, anecdotal evidence offered by city officials indicates that complaints against police officers have dropped dramatically in the Shakespeare District where the cameras have been used by officers for more than a year now. Some city officials have also said that the cameras are a way for police officers to rebuild trust with the community.
While the city of Chicago hasn’t released any statistics on the use of body cameras, these stories seem to confirm the results of a 2014 study in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology which found that when police officers are required to wear body cams while on duty, force is used in the course of duty 50 percent less often, and complaints against police are reduced by 90 percent. Put simply, body cams work at reducing incidents of police misconduct, and should police officers violate the rights of citizens, these cameras can provide invaluable evidence for pursuing and ultimately resolving a civil rights lawsuit.
Contact a Defense Lawyer
Spurred by near-daily reports of excessive force, police departments around the country and in Illinois are finally getting serious about police misconduct. Requiring every police officer to wear a body cam while on duty will go a long way toward reducing police misconduct in Chicago, but it won’t completely eliminate it, or help those who have already been victimized by it. If your civil rights have been violated by police misconduct, you’re entitled to seek relief through the judicial system. For more information, contact the Chicago offices of Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.