Police State/Civil Liberties

Chicago police to begin testing body cameras on officers in 60 days

By Tony Briscoe

Chicago Tribune

hicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday that the department would begin testing body cameras on officers within about 60 days as part of a pilot project.

McCarthy offered few specifics at a news conference called to highlight crime statistics, but he made it clear he backs the test.

“We have a number of officers who have volunteered because that’s how we’re going to handle it initially,” McCarthy said. “I endorse the program. I would say within 60 days we’ll be up and running.”

The announcement comes after a front-page story in the Tribune in September said the department planned a pilot project in a limited number of districts.

The move in Chicago follows a growing national trend and comes amid greater scrutiny after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown Jr., 18, by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.
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The cameras — about the size of a pager and typically clipped to the front of a shirt — are intended to capture an officer’s interaction with the public on video and audio, providing potentially crucial evidence in any dispute.

The new technology has won early backing among disparate groups that often clash over law enforcement issues, from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the state NAACP to the union that represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers and the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates allegations of misconduct by officers.

Proponents hope the cameras will reduce the number of citizen complaints and costly lawsuits over police misconduct while at the same time discouraging citizens from making baseless accusations. The U.S. Justice Department has warned of the scarcity of research on the cameras’ effectiveness, but a widely cited study of body cameras in 2012 by police in Rialto, Calif., a small town about 55 miles east of Los Angeles, found that complaints against its officers plummeted by 88 percent that year while officers’ use of force dropped by 60 percent.

Im glad the police are getting these .. I was pulled over yesterday and the police man told the others police who showed up “this kid is a piece of sht..” im also paralyzed, he said I deserved to be in the position I was in because I was arrested a couple times, he also said other…

Meanwhile, McCarthy said that heading into the last month of the year, homicides in Chicago are on pace to be the lowest since the 1960s, down 3 percent from a year earlier. But shootings remain considerably higher than last year, according to police statistics released Monday.

The number of homicides has fallen to 369 through the first 11 months of 2014, 13 fewer than a year earlier and the lowest figure since 1965, according to the department. But last month, despite being the eighth-coldest November on record for Chicago, homicides rose to 38, from 29 a year earlier.

Despite the overall drop in homicides, shootings continued to rise. Through the first 11 months of this year, Chicago has seen 1,885 shooting incidents, 172 more than a year earlier, about a 10 percent increase. For November there were 138 shooting incidents, 26 more than a year earlier or a 23 percent jump.

November ended with a high-profile slaying-suicide at Nordstrom along the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday. Employee Nadia Ezaldein, 22, died Sunday, two days after she was shot by ex-boyfriend Marcus Dee, 31, who then turned the gun on himself, police said.

McCarthy said investigators are looking into Dee’s background and where he obtained the gun. The superintendent confirmed that both of Dee’s parents are Chicago police officers.

In light of rising concerns over police-community relations after Brown’s death in Ferguson, McCarthy also highlighted that complaints against Chicago police officers had dropped by 17 percent.

“I think at some point there has to be an honest discussion,” he said. “It’s obviously a very charged issue.”

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