Chicago Receives Mostly High Marks For Its Body Camera Policy

police body cam
North Charleston/Flickr
police body cam
North Charleston/Flickr

Chicago Receives Mostly High Marks For Its Body Camera Policy

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According to a new report, the Chicago Police Department gets mostly high marks for its policies on body worn cameras. 

The organizations Upturn and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights partnered to examine the body camera policies of 25 police departments. It looked at eight policy categories — policy availability, officer discretion, personal privacy, officer review, footage retention, footage misuse, footage access and biometric use.

Chicago scored well in 6 out of 8 categories, including clear guidelines for when officers must record and instructing officers to give justification for when they fail to record an incident.

But CPD received low marks on having an unclear policy when it comes to biometric use and for allowing officers to review footage before filing their initial incident report.

Researcher Harlan Yu with Upturn says they only studied written policies.

“Obviously, the policy only goes as far as the police department actually enforces that. And many of the policies they don’t speak directly to disciplinary procedures,” he said.

Chicago police say the body cameras of officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old last week were not recording at the time of the incident.

CPD says all three police officers were wearing body cameras during the incident, but the actual shooting was not recorded. 

On Thursday, police stopped 18-year old Paul O’Neal in a car that had been reported stolen. Police then allegedly opened fire after O’Neal put the car in drive and sideswiped a squad car. 

The three officers involved in the shooting were relieved of their police powers after officials said a preliminary determination concluded they violated department policy. 

Superintendent Eddie Johnson declined to say whether the officer who fired the fatal shot failed to turn on the camera or if the device malfunctioned, saying that information is part of an ongoing investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.

The report gave the police department in Ferguson, Missouri low marks across the board. The department in Parker, Colorado was the only one that didn’t receive any low marks.

Researchers say the scorecard of one department shouldn’t be compared to another.