On Sunday, Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced a $150,000 grant that will help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) expand a pilot program to install video cameras in police squad cars. The state grant, in addition to a matching $50,000 grant from the City of Chicago, will allow CPD to purchase and install 30 video cameras in squad cars. The video cameras are an important step to help to strengthen public safety and promote accountability and trust between law enforcement and the community it serves.
"Putting video cameras inside police cars protects drivers stopped by the police and it protects police officers. It's good public policy and I'm glad we were able to help the City of Chicago do it," said Governor Blagojevich.
A 2002 study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) looked at the impact of police in-car camera systems on state police and highway agencies. The study reported an increase in officer safety, a reduction in the number of citizen complaints lodged against officers, officers conducting themselves more professionally, and an increase in the number of convictions and guilty pleas prior to going to trial.
"The in-car camera technology not only protects citizens and police officers, but it serves as a reliable tool to gather evidence for investigative purposes," said Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline. "It's a common sense measure that police officers nationwide are embracing, and the Chicago Police Department will continue to seek state and federal funding to expand the Program," he added.
The grant to fund the pilot program follows the first year of Illinois' racial profiling study, which was released in July 2005. The Illinois study, which involved approximately a thousand police agencies statewide, found that minorities are more likely to be pulled over than whites for a traffic stop and two and a half times as likely to have their car searched when pulled over. Having video cameras installed in squad cars during a traffic stop will not only make it easier to obtain accurate information as well as make it more safe for the law enforcement officer but also the cameras may be a powerful tool in helping to eliminate racial disparities by providing a record of all patrol activity and traffic stops.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) first began a similar pilot program in 1991 and over the years has equipped all of their law enforcement vehicles with video cameras. They report that with the use of in-car video cameras, officer indiscretions can immediately be verified or discredited. This capability allows agencies to quickly rebut false claims against officers or swiftly take sanctions against officers who step out of line. The agency has found that the use of video cameras has the affect of increasing the public's understanding and trust of law enforcement by allowing private citizens to imagine they are riding along with the police.
Through various grants and DUI funds, the ISP has 1293 cameras in their law enforcement vehicles. Up to 1999, 119 cameras were donated to ISP from various organizations and foundations, such as MADD and the Meadows Foundation. CPD's pilot program is an important first step to help them transition to an entire fleet equipped with video cameras.
The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) charged with administering grants and conducting audits of the state's criminal history records will be the source of funding for the grant, which is derived from federal monies.
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