Chicago Police Cameras Are Flawed; 80% Don’t Record Audio


The proliferation of police cameras in Chicago doesn’t assure that the public, let alone the alleged victims’ families, will have access to complete recordings, reports the Chicago Tribune. Time and again, lawyers suing over alleged police misconduct have found that the police department failed to produce crucial video or audio from the storage system the city spent millions of dollars to implement. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration fought for much of a year to prevent the release of the disturbing video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times. The video contradicted the police department’s claims that McDonald, 17, was moving toward police, menacing them with a knife, before he was shot. Even with its release, there were shortcomings.

The department made video public from five of the police cars at the McDonald shooting, but the audio did not work on any of them, a remarkable failure given the marketing emphasis the camera maker, Coban Technologies, devotes to the performance and reliability of its audio. In promotional videos, the company highlights the audio capabilities of its TopCam G2 system — the portable, battery-powered microphones that Chicago police officers wear clipped to their bodies. So far this year, only three of the 22 police shooting or excessive force cases referred to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution had been captured on dash-cam videos, and none had functioning audio. A Police Department spokesman acknowledged that the vast majority of microphones don’t work. “Currently, 80 percent of cameras don’t record audio due to technical or human error and in some cases intentional destruction to microphones,” said spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

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