Over the last several years, body-worn camera (BWC) requirements and usage have been a hotly debated topic. More recent incidents have brought the issue back into the spotlight for many areas, including Chicago.
Since people can have very different memories of an event, an officer’s BWC can accurately account for what happened during an arrest. Using cameras, however, can create many challenges for officers, victims and defendants.
Here are a couple of facts you should know about body-worn cameras for local officers.
Not all officers are wearing cameras
Body camera programs can be expensive. In addition to the equipment and training, law enforcement agencies need to consider how to store the data from body cameras.
Currently, not all Chicago police officers wear cameras. However, Illinois representatives are considering legislation to expand the current rules regarding who wears cameras and when the cameras are recording. If it is passed, it would require all officers to wear cameras.
The recording may stop before the incident is over
In some cases, someone at the scene can request that an officer turn off their BWC and stop recording. Victims and witnesses can request that an officer stop recording. Witnesses and victims may fear that people involved in the scene could retaliate if their identity is on the video footage.
However, there are circumstances when an officer can continue recording. If an officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that the victim or witness is committing or has committed a crime, the officer can keep recording. In most cases, officers are supposed to record all “law-enforcement-related encounter[s].”